Travel time for workers constitutes working time
The news broke on 10th September 2015 that a landmark ruling had emerged from the Court of Justice of the European Union in the case of Federación de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones obreras (CC.OO.) v Tyco Integrated Security SL, Tyco Integrated Fire & Security Corporation Servicios SA. Headlines hit the front pages up and down the country that employers would now have to pay for travel time to and from work for employees without a fixed office. This judgment has left many employers asking: What does this mean? Does this apply to my Company? How will this affect us? Let us explore a number of preliminary questions in turn.
What was the case about?
This case first arose in the Spanish National courts. It revolved around two companies Tyco Integrated Security and Tyco Integrated Fire & Security Corporation Servicios, and an interpretation of ‘working time’ under the Spanish National legislation and also the EU legislation. The workers involved in the case were employed as Technicians, and carried out the fitting of security systems in homes, industrial and commercial premises.
These employees had reported to an office in each of their respective Spanish provinces which had closed down in 2011, and employees were subsequently asked to report to the central office in Madrid. Employees had use of Company mobiles and vehicles in order to attend client premises within the area assigned to them. But there was no fixed or habitual place of work since the closing of the offices.
Tyco, the employer, included the time the employees spent travelling between their home and a customer’s premises as a rest period, and not as working time. Working time in this instance only began when the employee arrived at the client’s premises. Before the regional offices had closed, the working day had been calculated from when the employee arrived at the office. The issue before the courts was whether the time spent travelling between the employee’s home and to the customer’s site was working time for the purposes of the Working Time Directive, and therefore employees should be paid for it.
Why did the case go to the Court of Justice for the European Union?
When a Member State has a query regarding the interpretation of their National and/or EU legislation the national court can look to refer the question to the Court of Justice of the European Union to consider. In this particular case the question revolved around the EU Working Time Directive, and whether this situation fell within the definition of working time. Working time is defined as any period during which the worker is working at the employer’s disposal and carrying out his activity or duties, in accordance with national laws and/or practice.
What did the Court of Justice for the European Union conclude?
The court concluded that where workers do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, the time spent by those workers travelling each day from their homes and the premises of the first customer and last customer of the day, which is designated by the employer, should be considered working time within the meaning of the Working Time Directive.
The Court made reference to some keys points:
- The employer in this case designated that employees must travel to a certain customers premises;
- The start time had previously been calculated from arrival at the regional office;
- The purpose and nature of the journey’s had not changed just the starting place;
- The employees were acting on the instructions of the employer;
- The employees were at the disposal of the employer during those journeys i.e. if there was any change they would have to amend the journey;
- Employees were not able to use the time freely or pursue their own interests.
Practical considerations for Employers
- However those employers which have employees with no fixed or habitual place of work and fall under many if not all of the bullet points above, will have to look to include travel time between an employee’s home and the first and last customer of the day as part of the working day.
- The judgment has therefore created huge waves in the realm of the Employment Law, and this means that employers may have to re-evaluate the way that they pay employees for travel time. This ruling only effects employers if there is no fixed place of work for the employees, this is the key.
What does this mean for Employers:
- Consider the staffing in regional areas to ensure that employees are not travelling too great a distance to a customer’s premises.
- Consider putting customer’s appointments well within working hours to allow time for travel.
- Consider when quoting.