Travel time is working time (for some)

For those of you embarking on a long commute to or from work, the decision from the European Court of Justice last week that travelling time at the start and end of the day is working time, may have sounded like music to your ears.  Unfortunately, the case does not apply to all workers, only to those who have no fixed or habitual place of work.  The vast majority of workers who travel to the same place each day will not be treated as working whilst on their daily commute.

For employers with mobile workers this case is however significant.  It means that they will need to count the time spent by each worker travelling to their first customer or appointment and then home at the end of the day as working time.  

So why does this matter?

The Working Time Regulations set a maximum average working time of 48 hours per week.  Workers can opt out of this restriction.  Those who haven't done so, may find that their working time now exceeds this limit.  The Regulations also provide that workers should have 11 hours rest between the end of one day and start of the next. Again, the inclusion of travel time as working time may mean that some workers don't get enough rest.

Of perhaps greater significance in some sectors is the issue of pay.  Employers who currently pay their workers the National Minimum Wage will find that they have to increase the level of pay to take account of the increased working hours.  

Employers with mobile workers will now need to review their working patterns and pay structures and may wish to undertake a more general review of their operations to ensure that their workers' travel time at the start and end of each day is as short as possible.

Petra Venton