The Employment team at Healys discuss the impact of travel time on mobile workers.
Travel to work
For workers without a fixed office or workplace, the time spent travelling to and from home to appointments at the start and end of the day will now count as working time.
This was the decision of the ECJ in a case brought by workers at a Spanish company, Tyco. The workers at Tyco installed security equipment in clients’ homes and businesses and following the closure of various regional offices were assigned to the Madrid office.
Who is affected?
Mobile workers in EU countries. The case extended the definition of working time. The European Working Time Directive says that workers do not have to work more than 48 hours per week (unless in the UK they have opted out). So if they have not opted out, the time workers spend travelling to and from first and last appointments now has to be included and if this brings the weekly total close to or over the 48 hours limit, workers’ hours may have to be reduced, working patterns changed (or in the UK workers could be invited to sign an opt out).
Workers who spend significant periods of time at single locations or sites (e.g. construction workers) are not affected by this decision
What about pay?
This case does not directly deal with pay, just with what counts as working time. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a UK concept and not a European one. So a worker can’t rely directly on this decision of the ECJ or the Working Time Directive to argue that this sort of travelling time should be paid at a specific rate (e.g. the national minimum wage).
However, the decision may be an opportunity for mobile workers who are on the national minimum wage to argue that as this travel time is now defined as working time in European law, the same definition should apply to the NMW Regulations. We will keep an eye on any developments and update you.
Comment and Suggested Actions
Employers using mobile workers with no fixed workplace should review pay rates, working time and any working time opt outs and be prepared to adjust working hours or patterns to avoid exceeding 48 hour weekly limits.
- Identify any workers who do not have a normal place of work and who go directly to client customer assignments
- Review what travel time should now be included
- Review the contractual position (any opt out already ?), work patterns and hours for these workers
- Consider potential options to avoid any unlawful exceeding of WTR 48hrs limit
Case: Federacion de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL and anor.