So, does time spent travelling to work amount to working time? The European Court of Justice has held that the time spent by workers travelling between their homes and the first and last customers, where there is no fixed place of work, amounts to ‘working time’ under the Working Time Directive (WTD). This decision will have huge ramifications for UK businesses such as domiciliary care agencies, maintenance services and sales dominated businesses where often their staff have no fixed place of work and a spread of customers requiring them to travel to multiple destinations each day.
The Spanish case in question, Federación de Servicios Privados del Sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL and anor, Tyco (the Company) had closed down its provisional offices so that workers no longer had a fixed place of work. As a result, instead of workers driving to the office then out to various assignments, the workers receive their schedule electronically and travel directly from their home (in Company vehicles) to their first assignment then on to various other assignments then straight back home. The Company did not class the time spent travelling from a worker’s home to the first assignment or the time spent travelling from the last assignment to their home as “working time”. The Attorney General and laterally the ECJ disagreed with the Company. Prior to the ECJ’s decision, the Attorney General’s opinion was that travel was an important part of a ‘peripatetic workers’’ role and without travel, the workers would not be able to provide the company’s services. Therefore, as the workers had no fixed place of work, the time spent travelling was integral to them carrying out their working activities and amounted to “working time” under the WTD, the ECJ agreed.
As commented on by the BBC Legal Correspondent Clive Coleman, “Employers may have to organise work schedules to ensure workers’ first and last appointments are close to their homes” so as to reduce the costs of travel to and from work. Undoubtedly, businesses which operate within the realms of no fixed place of work, will need to calculate the cost implications of paying increased wages costs due to the increased number of ‘working’ hours and consider the knock on costs for their customers. As elderly care costs are ever increasingly stretched and subject to scrutiny, it is unfortunate that care agencies delivering care in the community will certainly be affected by this decision.
Things for businesses to start to consider:
- Review your workforce and roles, which workers does this affect?
- What changes can be made to the working week, workers schedules or to roles to reduce the number of workers in the business affected by this decision?
- Review types of employment/worker contracts.
- Are opt-out agreements in place?
- Review geographical areas of staff and their customer base to reduce travelling time.
- Budget reviews to build in additional staffing costs.
- Getting this wrong may result in workers making unlawful deduction of wages claims in the Employment Tribunal.
If your business will be affected by these changes and you are unsure where your business stands, View HR will take the time to talk you through the update and what you need to do to address it. Please contact us at hr@viewHR.co.uk or on 01425 205391 for a free initial discussion – www.viewhr.co.uk