Regarding mobile workers travel time, the European Court ruled that: “Where workers…do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, the time spent by those workers travelling each day between their homes and the premises of the first and last customers designated by their employer constitutes working time…” This decision was reached during an ongoing investigation involving the Spanish security installation company, Tyco. The Court stated that “”During the necessary travelling time – which generally cannot be shortened – the workers are therefore not able to use their time freely and pursue their own interests.” This was in response to Tyco’s claim that the travelling period to and from their jobs was a rest period for the employees.
The ruling which comes into force immediately will be a huge boost for thousands of UK workers, especially for low-paid care workers, according to Trade Unions. Under current legislation, the costs for travelling to client’s homes are not currently covered by the businesses.
This ruling will have huge implications for companies, not only in Spain, but in all of Europe because it is based around the EU Working Time Directive. There are concerns over the huge volume of workers who would exceed the 48 hour working week if the mobile workers travel time had to be factored in. For many businesses, this means having to adjust their schedules to ensure worker’s aren’t having to travel as far, or asking their employee’s to opt-out of the 48 hour maximum working week.
The change will most likely affect people who do not have a “normal workplace” such as travelling sales reps, engineers and care workers. However, there is likely to be a call to the government to define what constitutes a “normal workplace” so that normal commutes to work are not covered.
Employment partner at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, Ay Limbin- Glassey, also noted the potential problems for employers who have clients in remote places and the looming profitless future that this law could bring to these contracts. He goes on to say that:
“The ruling could also affect the job market, with preference shown to potential employers that live closer to the firm’s client base, therefore claiming a smaller ‘travel wage’. For those located far from clients, opting out of the working time directive may become somewhat of a necessity.”