New Law Journal – ECJ decides that travelling time is working time

Time spent by carers or tradesmen travelling to their first client and back from their final client counts towards the 48-hour working week, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has held.

The case, brought by burglar alarm and security equipment installers, Tyco, in Spain, involved workers with no office base who travelled each day from their own home to customers’ homes or workplaces. The court held that, where workers have no fixed place of work and use a company vehicle, their travelling time to and from work and between clients should be included in the definition of “working time”.

The ruling, (Case C-266/14), applies automatically in the UK, but does not directly affect pay.

Makbool Javaid, partner at Simons Muirhead and Burton, says: “This is a landmark ruling by the ECJ which further clarifies the meaning of working time.

“It has significant practical implications for employers who have workers with no fixed place of work and whose duties require them to visit the clients’ premises.

“Those employers paying the national minimum wage (NMW) should seek legal advice to thoroughly analyse the working practices and determine the statutory position under the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015, which appears to suggest that such travelling time does not count towards the NMW.”

Ivor Adair, employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, says: “The decision will have an immediate effect on UK law. It is most obviously beneficial to UK mobile workers, such as electrical fitters or peripatetic care staff, in that the time spent travelling from home to their first appointment of the day, and back home from their last appointment of the day, will now be classified as working time.”