Working time directive

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As the European Court of Justice issues new directives around travel to work times, Coodes partner and head of employment, Jeremy Harvey, outlines the implications for businesses that employ mobile workers.

Jeremy Harvey

A recent landmark case saw the European Court of Justice redefining the working day for employees with mobile jobs. These are staff that don’t have a fixed place of work, for example care workers, who visit people in their homes, and technicians who respond to call-outs from a number of homes or businesses.

Until now, the working day for these employees officially started when they arrived at their first work destination of the day and finished when they left the last premises. The changes mean that staff will now be paid from the moment they leave their house to the time they arrive home at the end of their shift.

There are a number of implications for businesses that employ mobile workers. Employers will need to review working practices, agree how to manage the changes, put pay systems in place and consider carefully how to avoid breaching the Working Time Directive.

The impact is likely to be less for those employers whose staff are on a fixed salary than those who are paid at an hourly rate. The new legislation means that people now have to be paid for these hours of work but does not state how much, but it will have to be above the minimum wage. Employers could adopt the approach of paying different amounts for travelling than for other work.

Employers will have to work out how to monitor travel to and from work time to avoid abuse. It is difficult to prove when someone actually leaves home and when they return but having a clear policy on this will be important.

If these hours are treated as working hours then it is arguable that travelling expenses may need to be paid for the additional journeys.  What is actually paid for those journeys is subject to agreement between everyone and needs to be in staff contracts.

Finally, care will need to be taken to ensure that the additional hours do not put staff, including those on a fixed salary, in breach of the Working Time Directive which limits weekly hours to 48 unless the employee agrees otherwise.

For more information on this or any Employment enquiries contact Jeremy Harvey, head of employment law at Coodes on 01579 325794 or jeremy.harvey@coodes.co.uk