Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled that those without a fixed or habitual office should consider the time they spend travelling between their homes and the premises, of their first and last jobs, as part of their hours for the day.
It has been reported that as many as 975,000 people in the UK could be affected by this ruling – those classified as “mobile workers” who do not have a fixed office and travel between clients such as care workers, plumbers, gas fitters, sales reps, mobile fitters, and those that employ them.
The ruling is unlikely to affect those who travel for work but have a permanent office as well as working remotely. If your contract includes a permanent base, then it would be difficult to successfully argue that you are a mobile worker, however there may be cases where the permanent base does not carry the same meaning because of the length of time spent away from it. Those with a permanent office, no matter the length of commute, will not be affected.
The ruling relates to the Working Time Directive – the European initiative which caps the working week at 48 hours. In the UK, employees have the option of opting out of the directive. Because of this ruling, it could mean that businesses find that they are in breach of the Working Time Directive, along with other employment law regulations such as minimum wage rules.
There may be a future affect on pay, due to the changes in average hourly rates to match minimum wage once the travelling time is taken into account, and it could also mean a change in working patterns.
It is imperative that all employers check the wording of their employment contracts to ensure the change is accounted for, particularly to ensure that this ruling will not result in an employee being paid below minimum wage or contracted above the stipulated 48 hour working week.
If you would like to further discuss the affect this ruling could have for you or your business, please feel free to talk to us on 0845 606 9632 or contact us via our webform.