New EU ruling – workers travelling to their ‘workplace’

By September 11, 2015Advice, Employment Law

What are the rules for workers with no fixed workplace?

In this month’s edition of our HR magazine, Employers Only, our legal expert Ed referred to a case from the European Court of Justice, and rightly predicted that it would impact how travelling between jobs will make-up an employee’s day.

Ed’s take

An opinion of the Advocate-General in the European Court of Justice in a Spanish case – Federación de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco – indicates that ‘working time’ for staff who travel to customers (without having a fixed place of work) would include time spent on the way to the first customer and from the last customer, e.g. sales reps, maintenance engineers etc. Whilst this judgment is not the final ruling, it is likely to be followed by the full Court later in the year, so it may mean that working time for such staff may need to be calculated and measured from the start and finish of journeys rather than time spent at work. Check staff working patterns if this might affect how your staff work. This case could have ramifications for weekly and daily rest, and the 48-hour weekly average working hours.

In the news today

And sure enough, today we’ve seen all over the news that working time must now include travelling to and from work, where an employee does not have a fixed place of work. As Ed states in his summary, this won’t include those travelling to their workplace (i.e. office workers), but to those who travel as part of work (i.e. carers, sales reps, maintenance workers, etc).

What will this mean for my business?

As Ed suggests, if you have workers which fall under this category, you will have to review their working patterns to ensure you are complying with the Working Time Directive.

This states that workers are entitled to:

  • 4 weeks paid leave;
  • average of 48 working hours per week (though they may choose to work more);
  • a minimum of 11 consecutive hours of rest, every 24 hours;
  • a minimum weekly rest period of 24 hours uninterrupted (as well as the daily 11 hours rest).

Making holidays add up

You might have noticed that the Working Time Directive only stipulates 4 weeks of paid leave, while the statutory rate in the UK is 5.6 weeks (28 days) per year. This is because the Working Time Directive runs alongside the Working Time Regulations which were put in place by UK domestic law in 1998, which tops up the 4 weeks under the Working Time Directive with an additional 1.6 weeks. Thus, full-time UK workers are entitled to a statutory 5.6 weeks of paid leave per year.

Author chris swindells

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