The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has now conclusively considered the issue of whether travel time to and from the first and last appointment of the day, in circumstances where an employee does not have a fixed office location, should be regarded as working time under the Working Time Directive.
In Federacion de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL
the ECJ concluded that such time does amount to working time under the Working Time Directive as this time is spent at the disposal of the employer. The Working Time Directive imposes maximum hours employees should work, and the ECJ took the view that requiring employees to bear the burden of travel time in circumstances where travel was imposed by an employer was contrary to the core aim of protecting employees’ health and safety.
This decision will have significant impact for those employers who employ staff with no fixed office. Employers should ensure that they review the working hours of each such employee to ensure that they are compliant with the working time requirements, or alternatively that opt-out agreements are in place.
However, the decision relates only to working time and does not automatically impose further pay obligations on employers. Travel time is not considered to be working time for the purposes of National Minimum Wage Legislation, although it is expected that this issue will inevitably come to be considered by the Employment Tribunal so that clarity can be given to employers’ on this issue.