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EU court: Travelling to work ‘is work’

Time spent travelling to and from first and last appointments by workers without a fixed office should be regarded as working time, according to the European Court of Justice.

Previously, this time had not previously been considered as working time by many employers. It means many firms – including those employing care workers, gas fitters and sales reps – may find themselves in breach of EU working time regulations.

The ruling finalises the verdict given by the Advocate General in June 2015 in the case of Federación de Servicios Privados del Sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL and others.

Having closed its regional offices around Spain, security services firm Tyco forced technicians to be assigned tasks at the Madrid office. Following the closures, the time employees spent travelling between their home and the client’s premises was deemed to be ‘rest period’ rather than working time.

The ruling could have implications across the EU for employees that do not have a fixed or regular workplace and travel to customer locations to fulfil their job duties, as well as for the organisations that employ such staff.

It could also affect compliance with the Working Time Directive, which states that employees cannot work more than 48 hours a week on average, although British business can choose to opt out of this limit.

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