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European Court Rules that Travelling to your “first job of the day” is Working Time

September 2015

At long last the European Court has now given definitive clarification that employees who do not have a fixed or regular place of work can count the travel time from their home to their first appointment as working time for the purposes of the Working Time Directive.

This has long been a vexed subject especially for care workers who travel from home to visit their patients or for engineers who go out and do calls at different venues on a daily basis.  Until now, in my experience in the UK, this travel time was never counted towards your hours of work and quite often that could cause hardship to employees.

In this case Tyco employed engineers to travel around and maintain security equipment at the premises of their customers.  Tyco have a central office in Madrid but the engineers did not work from there. They would leave each morning from home to a different customer. Tyco adopted the position that the working time only started when they arrived at the premises of the customer and started doing the job.  Similarly their working time ceased when they left the last customer and travelled home.  If they had more than one job on, travel between jobs was counted as working time but the journey to the first job and from their last job, back home, was not counted.

The European Court held that such workers satisfied the test for “working time” under the directive and that they were

  1. working;
  2. at the employer’s disposal;
  3. carrying out the employer’s activities or duties.

Strangely in my view, Tyco tried to argue that time travelling was in effect “rest time”.  Unsurprisingly, the ECJ rejected this argument and said that this had the potential to detrimentally affect the health and safety of the workers.

For employers, especially in the UK, this case has serious implications especially if journeys to the first or from the last job are lengthy journeys which are certainly not an uncommon situation. These times must be factored in when considering rest periods and the maximum 48 hour working week.  Employers should review their Contracts of Employment and employees, for whom time is not counted as working time, should certainly draw their employer’s attention to the situation. 

Once again, what had been a generally accepted position in the UK has literally changed overnight.  As this is a decision of the European Court of Justice the UK Courts will follow this ruling and the guidance given therein.

The full title of the case is

Federación de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO.) v Tyco Integrated Security SL, Tyco Integrated Fire & Security Corporation Servicios SA

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