A new EU judgement about what constitutes working time for employees without a fixed place of work will have serious repercussions for Midlands businesses, an employment lawyer has predicted.
The European Court of Justice recently ruled that time spent travelling between home and their first and last customers of the day must be counted within the Working Time Directive for anyone who doesn’t have a fixed or regular workplace.
The judgement was made following a case brought by a union on behalf of workers in a Spanish security company, who were often travelling long distances to reach their first customer or return home at the end of the day. A Spanish court referred the case to the EU to clarify what was “working time”.
Tracy Worthington, an employment lawyer with FBC Manby Bowdler, said the outcome means businesses such as care providers must urgently review their policies.
“This ruling has a big impact on employers as it changes what time should be included in working time, for example for the purposes of calculating rest periods and breaks as well as counting towards the 48-hour weekly limit on working hours.
“The court said that travelling is an integral part of the job for peripatetic workers who have no say in where they need to travel to and when, therefore this must be regarded as forming part of the time at work under the directive.”
As part of the case, the European court rejected arguments that the outcome would inevitably lead to an increased cost to employers, however Amber advised that employers cannot afford to ignore the ruling.
She added: “Employers will have to urgently review the impact of the changes on their business and ensure they comply with the working time rules, however they remain free to determine the rate of pay that is applicable for travelling time, subject to the National Minimum Wage and the Living Wage, that becomes law from April 2016.
“Any business that is concerned about the impact of this new ruling, should seek legal advice.”
FBC Manby Bowdler has offices in Wolverhampton and Willenhall as well as Shrewsbury, Telford and Bridgnorth. For employment advice, please contact the employment team on 01902 578000.