European Court rules ‘travel time’ is working time for those with no fixed workplace

Unite Legal Services welcomes the European Court’s recent decision regarding working time for mobile workers.

In a Spanish case (Federacion de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL), the European Court has ruled that, for workers with no fixed workplace or base (mobile or peripatetic workers), the travel time to the worker’s first appointment and home from their last appointment counts as working time under the Working Time Directive.

The workers in the case were previously based at regional offices across Spain, until the employer chose to close its offices in 2011.

Workers were then required to cover large geographical areas with no fixed workplace, as their employer had chosen to close those workplaces. They were instead required to carry out the installation and maintenance of security systems for customers in their geographical area, using a company vehicle to travel every day from their homes to the customer(s) premises.

The workers had no choice regarding the locations of the customers they were required to visit and/or the order in which they did the jobs; this, and therefore the workers’ travel time, was all decided by their employer. The employer treated the travel time as ‘rest time’, however, the Court determined that the time spent by the workers travelling between home and customers constitutes ‘working time’.

The objective of the Working Time Directive is to protect the safety and health of workers, and the Court’s decision to include mobile workers’ travel time between home and their first and last appointments is an important and logical improvement for mobile workers. The decision means employers need to be including this travel time when calculating a mobile worker’s working week as well as ensuring the daily and weekly rest requirements are met.

If any members believe they are affected by this decision and are concerned that they are not receiving their requisite rest periods, they should contact their local Unite rep or regional officer for further advice on their individual circumstances.