The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has ruled that time spent travelling to and from the first and last assignments carried out by workers without a fixed office should be regarded as working time under the Working Time Directive (Directive).

Federacion de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones oberas v Tyco Integrated Security Ltd

Tyco employs technicians to install and maintain security equipment at customers’ premises in Spain. The technicians are provided with a company vehicle in which they travel every day from their own homes to the locations they are instructed to carry out installation or maintenance work. The extent of travel varies from day to day and sometimes exceeds 100km.

For the purposes of the Directive, Tyco argued that the time that workers spent travelling from their home to their first customer and the journey from the last customer to the worker’s home was a “rest period” and did not count as working time. The CJEU disagreed and held that travelling is an integral part of being a worker without a fixed or habitual place of work. This was because Tyco had authority to determine the order and locations of the tasks they performed and therefore the amount of travel time incurred.  As a result, the workers were at the disposal of Tyco when travelling, including at the start and the end of each shift.  This time should therefore be regarded as working time under the Directive.

Implications of the case

The CJEU ruling does not cover all workers and is specific to peripatetic workers; meaning mobile workers without a fixed or habitual place of work.

There have been suggestions in the press that this ruling will allow workers on the national minimum wage to claim more money for the time they spend travelling to work. However, these reports are incorrect as this is not a case about the national minimum wage.  The national minimum wage regulations in the UK specifically exclude  travel between home and any place where an assignment is carried out from the definition of working time for national minimum wage purposes. The national minimum wage is part of national law and is not a European right.

The Directive does not apply to the remuneration of workers and is concerned with protecting the health and safety of workers. It provides that employees in the EU cannot be forced to work more than an average of 48 hours per week.

This decision should only be of concern to you if it means your organisation is potentially in breach of the Directive.  This will be the case if your mobile workers are working more than an average of 48 hours per week over a 13 week reference period, once their travel time at the start and the end of each shift is included in the calculation.  If so, you should take steps to either reduce their working hours or, ensure that these workers have signed opt-out agreements. Alternatively, you may wish to specify a habitual place of work in their contracts of employment.  The ruling may also have implications as to when other rights under the Directive are triggered, such as daily and weekly rest breaks. 

If you would like to discuss the impact of this ruling on your organisation you should contact a member of the Employment team

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Louise Rea

Senior Associate

+44(0)20 7551 7799

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Lucy McLynn

Partner and Head of Employment

+44(0)20 7551 7806

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Posted on 11/09/2015 in Legal Updates

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