Are You an Employee With No Fixed Office or Workplace?

Then this could affect you!

Posted on: 30/09/2015   By: Lee Rance

I recently stumbled upon an interesting article while trawling the web regarding a European Court of Justice ruling. Although it’s only a tenuous link to health and safety I thought it was worth putting out there.

The ruling states that travelling to and from the first and last appointments by employees with no fixed office should be regarded as ‘working time’. This means that firms with workers without a fixed office or workplace, such as carers and sales reps, may be in breach of the The Working Time Regulations.

traffic - Copy

The ruling came after a legal case in Spain where a company that maintained security systems closed its office making its employees home based. They were then required to travel between their own homes and clients premises at the start and end of their working day. On occasion travelling great distances to reach clients premises. They argued that this time should be included as ‘working time’.

The Court takes the view that the workers are at the employer’s disposal for the time of the journeys. During those journeys, the workers act on the instructions of the employer, who may change the order of the customers or cancel or add an appointment. During the necessary travelling time – which generally cannot be shortened – the workers are therefore not able to use their time freely and pursue their own interests

– EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE

This ruling could have a big impact on a lot of businesses. Many of which may now be in breach of working time regulations. One of the regulations main goals is to ensure that no employee in the EU is obliged to work more than an average of 48 hours a week. In the UK, employees, with some exceptions, can work more than 48 hrs per week, they would need to ‘opt-out’ of the regulations. Alternatively an employer can ask that the employee ‘opts-out’ but the employee is under no obligation to do this if they don’t want to.

The ruling could also have a knock on effect with companies struggling to absorb additional wage costs especially if employees are travelling great distances to get to their first appointments. Employers could also start being more selective with whom they employ giving preference to those that live closer to the firm’s client base which would have an effect on the job market.

Allie Renison, head of EU and trade policy at the Institute of Directors, said:

This ruling will surprise and concern many UK businesses, and indeed public sectors employers, who had been following the law to the letter.  The notion that the period mobile workers spend travelling between home and their first client in the morning must count as working time goes above and beyond the protections intended by the law.  The Working Time Directive needs to be reviewed, in order to resolve the lingering questions which are now being ruled on by the ECJ. Ensuring that employers do not have additional costs and burdens sprung upon them like this must be a core element of the PM’s renegotiation efforts.

The ECJ ruled on this case in order to protect the health and safety of employees and to try to restrict employees from working in excess of 48 hrs per week.

If you require any health and safety advice, give us a call on 01908 632418 or send us an email.

Until next time.

Lee Rance.