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When is travel working time?

16/06/2015
The Advocate General to the European Court of Justice has just issued an opinion on whether or not travelling to and from work may count as working time for certain staff. The Spanish company Tyco The Advocate General to the European Court of Justice has just issued an opinion on whether or not travelling to and from work may count as working time for certain staff. The Spanish company Tyco Integrated Security SL has a number of employees who do not work from an office or other fixed location, but travel each day to carry out work for different customers in their company vans. Like many employers who operate on this basis, Tyco has not been treating the first trip each day from home to the customer, nor the last trip back home, as working time. In other words, employees have only been paid each day from the time that they arrive at the first customer until the time that they depart from the last. Given that there is sometimes a significant journey involved in getting to or from customers, this has substantial implications for workers' wages.

Advocate General Bot suggests that, for 'peripatetic workers' of this type, travelling is an integral part of the work and necessary for the customers to receive the relevant services, meaning that it should be treated as working time. He notes that time is either resting time, or working time, with no intermediate category. On this basis, the relevant travelling time must fall into the "work" category. This opinion is not binding, but the AG's view is usually followed by the Court. Judgment is expected later this year, but there will be many UK employers who may have to be prepared for a very different and potentially costlier approach when defining working time for staff who travel each day to customer sites.

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