Travelling time for workers with no fixed workplace counts as working time

In the case of Federacion de Servicios Privados del Sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL and Another, the European Court of Justice has confirmed the decision of the Advocate General given in June 2015.  It was the view of the Advocate General that travelling workers who have no fixed or habitual workplace should be able to count the time spent travelling from home to the first customer and from the last customer back to their homes as "working time" under the Working Time Directive.  It was the view of the Advocate General that travelling is an integral part of the work of such "peripatetic workers" and is a necessary means of providing services to the customers, meaning that it should be regarded as forming part of the worker's activities.

The employer TIS employed approximately 75 workers in Spain to install and maintain security equipment in business premises and homes.  Each worker was assigned to a central office in Madrid but each has a responsibility for a particular geographical area.  Each worker had the use of a company vehicle in which they travelled every day from their homes to the place where they would carry out the installation of maintenance work.  They would use the vehicle in which they travelled to work to return home at the end of the day.  The amount of travel varied but could sometimes be in excess of 100 kilometres.  Under the company's policy, neither the first of last journey of the day, namely the journey from the worker's home to the first customer and the journey from the last customer to the worker's home was counted as working time.  The working day was therefore, calculated as running from the worker's arrival at the first customer of the day to the time when the worker left the premises of the last customer.  The workers had sought to challenge this classification as been contrary to the EU Working Time Directive.  The Spanish Court had therefore, referred the case to the European Court of Justice seeking clarification on the meaning of working time. 

The European Court of Justice has now given its judgment and confirmed the earlier conclusion reached by the Advocate General.  The European Court of Justice concluded that the worker's journeys were a necessary means of providing their technical services to customers and that they had to be regarded as carrying out their activity or duties during that time.  The employer determined the list of calls and order of customers together with the appointment times.  The workers were not therefore, free to use their time as they pleased and so were at the employer's disposal. 

In reaching the conclusion the European Court of Justice rejected representations by the UK Government that this conclusion would lead to an inevitable increase in costs for the employer.  The European Court of Justice pointed out that the company were free to determine the remuneration for travel time and therefore, the method of remuneration would be left to the relevant provisions of National Law. 

Posted on: 14/09/2015

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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