The European Court of Justice has ruled that time spent by mobile employees such as plumbers, decorators and carers driving to and from their first and last customer of the day now counts towards the 48-hour working week. This is time which has not previously been considered as work by many employers.

The Case

Following the recent decision in Federación de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL, employees without a fixed place of work should consider the time spent travelling between their home and their first and last job of the day as part of their hours of work. In this case the company closed its regional offices resulting in employees travelling varying distances before arriving at their first appointment.

The court ruled that the fact that the individuals began and finished the journeys at their homes stemmed directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.

The case doesn’t however affect those with a permanent place of work, however lengthy their commute.

The Impact

This case relates specifically to the Working Time Directive which is designed to protect workers from exploitation by employers. It regulates how many breaks employees have, how many holidays they are entitled and also caps the working week at 48 hours unless the employees signs an opt out.

The decision could have a huge effect on both employees and employers alike with as many as 975,000 people in the UK falling under the remit of the ruling and thousands of employers potentially in breach of the clarified regulations.

The ruling could also add significant costs to businesses if companies are forced to pay higher salaries in order to avoid breaking minimum wage laws, and possibly give employees more breaks. It could also lead to a change in employee working patterns – especially for those who do not choose to opt out of the 48-hour working week. The ruling will affect businesses of all sizes which may in turn affect growth and jobs.

Whether you are a mobile employee travelling between jobs, or an employer who is concerned about the impact on your business, we can help. Contact us today to book a FREE 30 minute consultation with one of our expert employment law solicitors.


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The Backhouse Solicitors Team