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New Landmark Case Redefines Employment Definition

The Court of European Justice has ruled in a landmark case that time spent travelling to and from first and last jobs by workers who do not have a fixed office should be regarded as work.

The ruling comes following a case from involving a Spanish company Tyco, who install and maintain security equipment in homes and commercial premises. The workers for the company often had to drive three hours to get to locations with Tyco counting said period as “rest”.

New Ruling: Who is Affected?

Employees who could be defined (or perhaps are in their contracts) as mobile workers could be affected by the ruling. Freelancers, traders and care workers are all affected by the ruling applying to those with no permanent office or usual place of work. Although the ruling does not affect those who have to commute long distances to an office, it is believed that the ruling could affect close to 1 million.

How are Employers Affected?

Due to the ruling coming from an EU court, the rule will affect UK employers as courts and tribunals must interpret the Working Time Regulations 1998 to make sure that the working hours reflect the Working Time Directive which defines when employees are working. Estimates state that under the new ruling UK employees could be working for 10 hours more per week.

As excluding those journeys from working time would be contrary to EU Law, employers will now need to ensure they are not breaking the law when planning maximum working hours and rest periods.

Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employer must state if an employee has a place of work or that they are required to work at various places. This will also now need to be assessed by some workers to ensure it is legally correct. Employers may also wish to review their pay practices in relation to mobile workers with employers being free to determine payment for the time spent by mobile workers travelling between home and customers. However, national law applies regarding the National Minimum Wage.

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If you require advice regarding the new ruling or if you are facing legal action from employees we can help. Contact us today using our online contact form.

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