Travelling time for workers with no fixed workplace counts as working time
In the case of Federacionde Servicios Privados del Sindicato Comisiones Obreras v TycoIntegrated Security SL and Another, the European Court ofJustice has confirmed the decision of the Advocate General given inJune 2015. It was the view of the Advocate General thattravelling workers who have no fixed or habitual workplace shouldbe able to count the time spent travelling from home to the firstcustomer and from the last customer back to their homes as "workingtime" under the Working Time Directive. It was the view ofthe Advocate General that travelling is an integral part of thework of such "peripatetic workers" and is a necessary means ofproviding services to the customers, meaning that it should beregarded as forming part of the worker's activities.
The employer TIS employedapproximately 75 workers in Spain to install and maintain securityequipment in business premises and homes. Each worker wasassigned to a central office in Madrid but each has aresponsibility for a particular geographical area. Eachworker had the use of a company vehicle in which they travelledevery day from their homes to the place where they would carry outthe installation of maintenance work. They would use thevehicle in which they travelled to work to return home at the endof the day. The amount of travel varied but could sometimesbe in excess of 100 kilometres. Under the company's policy,neither the first of last journey of the day, namely the journeyfrom the worker's home to the first customer and the journey fromthe last customer to the worker's home was counted as workingtime. The working day was therefore, calculated as runningfrom the worker's arrival at the first customer of the day to thetime when the worker left the premises of the last customer. The workers had sought to challenge this classification as beencontrary to the EU Working Time Directive. The Spanish Courthad therefore, referred the case to the European Court of Justiceseeking clarification on the meaning of workingtime.
The European Court of Justicehas now given its judgment and confirmed the earlier conclusionreached by the Advocate General. The European Court ofJustice concluded that the worker's journeys were a necessary meansof providing their technical services to customers and that theyhad to be regarded as carrying out their activity or duties duringthat time. The employer determined the list of calls andorder of customers together with the appointment times. Theworkers were not therefore, free to use their time as they pleasedand so were at the employer's disposal.
In reaching the conclusion theEuropean Court of Justice rejected representations by the UKGovernment that this conclusion would lead to an inevitableincrease in costs for the employer. The European Court ofJustice pointed out that the company were free to determine theremuneration for travel time and therefore, the method ofremuneration would be left to the relevant provisions of NationalLaw.
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.