You may have read in the news today of an EU ruling on working time that affects workers who are not office-based. Time spent travelling to and from first and last appointments by such workers should now be paid. Many employers do this already, but many do not.


Employment Tribunal solicitors braced for working time claims 1This particularly affects you if you are a care worker, plumber, sales rep, or similar. If you are more akin to a professional, who occasionally go to client meetings it affects you too, although if so you are likely to be unaffected because you will be deemed to be able to choose your own working arrangements. Neither will it probably affect those who have signed a 48 hour a week opt-out of the working time regulations.

There is no impact on the national minimum wage, which calculates working time by a different set of rules.

The working time directive protects workers by setting rules on how long employees work, how many breaks they have, and how much holiday they are entitled to. It puts a ban on a working week longer than 48 hours, although UK employment law currently allows it if the employee opts out in writing.

Employers can mitigate the effects by organising work schedules to put first and last appointments close to home.

The judgment is retrospective, posing a worry about employment tribunal claims for past breaches and back-pay for some employers.

Finding for a group of security installer claimants, the European court said that if workers begin or finish the journeys far from home, it is because the employer got rid of the regional offices. The employee should not pay the price, as it is detrimental to their health.

This will have some impact for certain employers and it is another example of the trend at the EU employment law level towards improving employment law rights for employees.