A recent European Court of Justice ruling in connection with the Working Time Directive (WTD) says that where you have an employee with no fixed or habitual workplace, for example they travel from place to place to carry out their job, the journey to their first job and home from their last job should be counted as working time.
Some of the most obviously include sales reps, home carers and travelling trades such as plumbers, carpenters and electricians.
The UK’s opt out from the WTD only covers the 48 hour working week, so it seems that this is another working time ruling that will affect UK businesses.
How to respond? Our advice would be to assess a) which and how many roles you think this will affect in your business, b) what kind of distances you are talking about when it comes to your employee’s travelling, c) whether your current contract or handbook says anything about how these hours are treated or, in the absence of any rules, how that time is actually treated now, and d) what the impact would be of including these as working hours and whether it would reduce the amount of work done on a day to day basis dramatically.
The potential impact of including these journeys as working hours is that fewer jobs would be completed within the working day. Alternatively, it will mean that the extra hours need to be paid for in addition to the standard working week. In this case however you need to be careful that you don’t exceed the 48 hour week rule – unless of course your employees have signed an opt out!!
Each businesses’ circumstances will dictate the most practical response, but you may need to see if you can minimise the impact by reorganising journey plans or the size of territories to shorten travelling distances and improve productivity to offset the additional costs of hours added onto the working day.
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