On 10 September, 2015 the European Court ruled that time spent by mobile workers (workers who have no set place of work) in getting to their first meeting or appointment of the day and getting to their home from the last meeting or appointment is to be treated as working time for the purposes of the Working Time Directive. This means that such time forms part of the employee’s working week and is subject to the 48 hour maximum (unless an opt-out is in place).
The ruling includes all workers who have no fixed office base such as sales staff, care workers and customer service workers whose working patterns mean that they spend the majority of their time at customer locations.
To some extent this ruling can be dealt with by using a working time opt-out. However workers cannot be forced to opt out and, even if the worker agrees, consent can be withdrawn at any time on 3 months’ notice.
This ruling will not ordinarily mean that workers are entitled to additional remuneration for such travel time because the Working Time Directive does not cover remuneration (other than in the limited case of paid annual leave). Remuneration is instead covered by the National Minimum Wage Regulations, which states that travel time between home and a place of work is excluded from the obligation to pay the national minimum wage, including for mobile workers.
However employers should check the exact wording of contracts of employment carefully in relation to hours of work and pay to ensure that there is no contractual right to further remuneration now that such hours are deemed as working time.
How Can We Help?
If you employ mobile workers you will need to review, adapt and possibly renegotiate working practices and contracts as soon as possible in order to remain compliant with the Working Time Regulations and any relevant contractual obligations around remuneration. There are some obvious ways in which the effect of this decision can be mitigated such as requiring the first and last calls to be those closest to the worker’s home to reduce the amount of additional working time, but proper consultation will be the key if costly and disruptive disputes are to be avoided.
Abbiss Cadres has a unique service model incorporating all the expertise needed to help you manage the complexities of your employment and people issues. As well as employment law expertise our team includes human resources and communications consulting, tax, compensation and benefits, and global mobility specialists.
If you have any questions or need help in assessing how the ruling could impact your business speak to our team.
The judgement of the court can be found here.
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