In Federación de Servicios Privados del Sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL and anor, the Advocate-General’s opinion is that for workers with no fixed work address, travel time between home and their various places of work should be counted as ‘working time’. Whilst the opinion is not binding it is often followed by the Court. If it does, then this will have a considerable impact to those who travel as part of their job.
Like many European countries, the position in the UK has been that time taken by a worker travelling to the first customer’s premises and home from the last customer’s premises has never been included when calculating ‘working time’.
The reference to the European Court of Justice came from a Spanish court, after a group of workers who drove to customers throughout Spain installing security systems objected that their employer was breaching the Spanish working time rules by not treating their first and last journeys of the day as working time.
The Advocate General held that this travel time satisfied the three criteria of time:
- Where the worker is at work,
- At the employer's disposal, and
- Carrying out his activity or duties,
and should therefore be regarded as working time rather than a worker "freely disposing" of his time or taking a rest break.
The AG did address the concern that this interpretation would allow workers to take advantage of the journeys at the beginning and end of the day to carry on their personal business. The AG indicated that employers can put in place the necessary monitoring procedures to avoid any abuse.
Penningtons Manches recommend that UK employers start considering if this decision will affect their workforce and be ready to implement changes once the judgment comes into effect later this year. The sooner employers implement any necessary changes the less exposure they will have to claims for wages, holiday pay, rest periods, or breach of the 48-hour week.