Ruling To Have Significant Implications For UK Organisations
UK businesses which employ workers who have to travel to appointments throughout the day will be significantly affected by a European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision handed down this morning (10th September) - according to employment lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.
The case relates to a Spanish-based security system installation company called Tyco Integrated Security SL. The firm's technicians use company vehicles to travel to appointments across Spain, but the employer does not treat the first journey of the day (from home to the first appointment) or the last journey of the day (from the last assignment to home), as 'working time'. Instead they regard this travel time as “rest time” under the Working Time Directive.
Following a claim brought by technicians, the Spanish courts referred the case to the ECJ to consider how this travel time at the start and end of the day should be treated.
When handing down his opinion on the case earlier this year, the Advocate General (AG) said that the travel time should be classified as working time.
The ECJ has agreed and declared that where workers do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, the time spent by workers travelling each day between their homes and the premises of the first and last customers designated by their employer constitutes “working time” within the meaning of the Directive. Workers in such a situation (who are travelling as a requirement by their employers) should therefore be considered to be carrying out their duties over the whole duration of those journeys.
The ruling means that Courts and Tribunals in the UK will now have to treat such travel time as working time.
The European Working Time Directive provides employees with a number of rights including limits on the number of hours they can work, and entitlements to rest breaks, breaks between working days and holiday entitlement. The Directive states that unless employees opt out, they can only be required to work a maximum of 48 hours per week.
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