Changes to the Working Time Directive

Workers who are not office based, and who travel to their jobs should have their journey time to and from their first and last appointments of the day included in their working times according to a ruling by the European Court of Justice.  This is likely to affect tens of thousands of workers.

The case was brought by the workers of a Spanish company whose workers travelled to install and maintain security systems at customer’s premises. For the purposes of the Working Time Directive, their employer tried to argue that their travelling time was a “rest period” rather than working time (as when they were driving they were not installing).

Our Head of Employment, Ian Abel clarified the situation, “The first and last trip of the day – from home to customer, and from customer back home again hasn’t traditionally been regarded as working time by many employers, but this ruling makes it clear that for mobile workers, those are people without a fixed permanent office, this period is very much part of their working time”.

In the working population we are talking about people like gas fitters, sales people etc and these changes could mean that thousands of employers are now could be in breach of working time regulations and could mean that their only option is to invite workers to opt out of the Working Time Directive, which says that we should only work for 48 hours a week.

Ian added that “Whilst workers might agree to those changes, they may suggest that they want more money for doing so, if they refuse to opt out of this Directive then employees can’t be sacked, dismissed or demoted.”

We believe that lots of employers are going to ignore this change, and it’s therefore likely that a lot of these cases will be tested in an Employment Tribunal.

If you believe that you would benefit from legal advice on this matter or believe that you have a claim against your employer, please call us on 0844 499 9302 or email us at employ@michaellewin.co.uk

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