The ECJ has followed the Advocate-General’s opinion in Federacion de Servicios Privados v Tyco Integrated Security (reported in our blog here) that, for peripatetic employees with no fixed or habitual workplace, time spent travelling from home to the first customer and from the last customer of the day back home does count as ‘working time’. This is because during such journeys the workers are at work, at their employer’s disposal and carrying out their duties or activities.
The ruling is relevant to mobile workers such as sales representatives, care workers, maintenance technicians and engineers, who visit a number of customer locations in a workday. Employers may face arguments as to whether it also applies where workers regularly move from site to site but spend at least a full day and potentially longer periods at one site; caselaw will be needed to clarify whether such workers are viewed as having a fixed or habitual place of work for the duration of each project.
UK tribunals are obliged to interpret the UK Working Time regulations in a way which is consistent with this ruling. UK employers may therefore need to change their approach with regard to working time rights such as rest breaks, maximum working week and so on, and should now review this carefully. This could also be an important factor to take into account for businesses considering becoming less office-based and more mobile. (Note that time spent travelling from and to home does not currently count as working time under the National Minimum Wage Regulations and there is no obligation to interpret these consistently. However, employers may face pressure to pay wages for this time, even if there is no current contractual requirement to do so.)
Employers who are concerned about employees performing personal tasks on the way from or to home may wish to put in place monitoring and disciplinary procedures to avoid abuse and perhaps make clear that workers must take the most direct route possible in their journeys, including between home and their first and last customers of the day.