Federacion de Servicios Privados v Tyco Integrated Security was a case brought by Spanish security system installers. Originally they had reported to a regional office, and then travelled from there to their first customer, returning to the regional office at night before travelling home. Following a re-organisation, they travelled to their first place of work directly from their homes and went back to their homes in the evening from the last customer. The distances involved could be substantial, exceeding 100km in some cases. The question referred to the European Court was whether, under the Working Time Directive, the employer should treat the travelling time to and from their homes as working time, in which case it could not be included in the calculation of rest time.

The Court's Advocate-General gave an Opinion earlier this year that, because journeys to and from home constitute an essential part of the duties of peripatetic employees, travel to the first customer, and back from the last, should be treated as working time, in the same way as travel between jobs. The Court has now followed this Opinion.

Our Working Time Regulations use the same definition of working time as in the Directive, so, we would expect tribunals here to take the same approach in the case of mobile workforces, or employees who work at a number of different locations but do not have a specific base. It remains the position, however, that commuting to and from an employee's usual place of work would not normally be regarded as working time.

Although the National Minimum Wage Regulations specifically provide that working hours do not include travelling between a worker's home and the workplace or a place where an assignment is carried out, employers with mobile workforces are likely to face claims that employees should be paid for travelling time at the start and end of the day in future, if they are not already.

If mobile employees already opt out of maximum weekly working time, this decision should not mean that existing working hours have to be reduced. However, employers will need to check that peripatetic employees are able to take at least 11 hours' rest between getting home at night and setting off again the following morning.