The ECJ has held that time spent by workers who do not have a fixed or habitual place of work travelling between their home and the first and last customers of the day counts as ‘working time’.

Background

The ECJ has followed the Advocate General’s opinion which we reported to you in our July newsletter. By way of a reminder, the case concerned technicians who drove to customers throughout Spain installing and maintaining security systems. Their journeys from home to their first assignment and from their last assignment to home were treated by their employer as ‘rest periods’, not working time.

What does this mean?

The ECJ has now held that these journeys satisfy the definition of working time, i.e. time where the worker is working, at the disposal of the employer and carrying out their activity or duties. Travelling was necessary for the employees to provide their technical services to the customers and they were still at the employer’s disposal during their first and last journeys of the day (when the employer could change the order of customers or cancel appointments at any time).

What should employers do?

This increase in the time that is considered to be working time has potentially significant implications for employers who employ mobile workers.

Issues include increased costs in terms of pay and holiday pay, making sure employees are still paid above the National Minimum Wage and employees potentially exceeding the 48 hour weekly limit on working hours.

In response to concerns expressed by the Spanish and UK governments that workers may take advantage of these journeys to conduct their personal business, the ECJ suggested that employers may wish to consider putting monitoring procedures in place to prevent potential abuse.

Case reference: Federacion de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL