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When is time on stand-by classed as working time?
A recent case in the European Court of Justice (CJEU) looked at the situation of a retained Belgian firefighter. When he was on stand-by duty, he was required to contactable and within 8 minutes travelling time of the fire station. Like other staff (both full-time and retained) in the fire service he was paid an annual allowance, but he claimed that he had not been paid appropriately for his time.

The key issue for the court was to consider the nature of the stand-by time, having decided that he was classified as a worker. In this case, the court rejected the previous opinion given by the Advocate General about the need to look at the quality of the time. Instead they focussed on where he was required to be, and concluded that where an employer specifies where a worker or employee has to be (even if that is in his/her own home) that this would constitute working time. Although it is quite a fact-specific case, it will have wider ramifications for employers who require their staff to be constrained in their location whilst on stand-by. This is a ruling specifically about working time, but may have implications on pay depending on national minimum wage entitlements.
Posted on 22 Feb 2018


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