EU Court Declares Traveling to Work ‘is Work’
As per the ruling of the European Court, the amount of time spent by workers, who are devoid of a fixed office, in form of traveling to and from their first and last place of appointment for the day must be included and added to their total amount of working time.
Many of the employers had been ignoring this previously and the time spent traveling was not included in the working hours of such employees.
This implies that the firms which employ and provide gas fitters, care workers, and sales representatives have been breaching the European Unions’ (EU) regulations regarding working time.
As per the assessment of the situation by the BBC, this ruling can have a “huge effect”. It further added by saying.
“Employers may have to organize work schedules to ensure workers’ first and last appointments are close to their homes”, in the same regard.
The Issue of Health & Safety
In the viewpoint of Chris Tutton, from Irwin Mitchell solicitors, he shared with BBC “Thousands of employers may now potentially be in breach of working time regulation rules in the UK”.
Regarding the judgment passed by the court, the court added that the main aim of the judgment was to protect the “health and safety” of the work force in accordance with the rules laid down by the EU’s working time directive.
The intended purpose of the existence of the ordinance is the protection of workers from mistreatment in the hands of employers or management and the regulations which it lays down should be the quintessential point of reference for the employers regarding working hours, breaks during the working hours, and the entitled number of holidays of the employees of the company.
The directive mandates and limits the working hours of every employee employed in the EU to an average of 48 hours in a week’s time and employers in no way can oblige the workers to work for more than prescribed hours.
The ruling was passed in reference to an on-going legal suit in Spain which involves Tyco, a company that sets up security systems at clients’ locations and requires traveling of company representatives to and fro from the project sites.
Time to Bear the Burden
The company Tyco, in the year 2011 had shut down its regional offices, this in turn resulted in traveling of varied distances by the employees of the company in order to reach the site of their first appointment. Therefore, in the ruling, the court said: “The fact that the workers begin and finish the journeys at their homes stems directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves”.
“Requiring them to bear the burden of their employer’s choice would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers pursued by the directive, which includes the necessity of guaranteeing workers a minimum rest period”.
In the meantime, Casper Glyn, an employment law barrister did agree to the fact that the court’s decision is potent enough to affect “millions of workers”.
But he also said that the speculation surrounding the court’s ruling that it will allow and empower the workers currently employed on minimum wage entitled to claim extra money will not hold true for the UK since “The national minimum wage in the UK right, it is not a European right. There’s no European right to a national minimum wage”.
“The minimum wage regulations in the UK do not count as work travel from home or to any workplace”, he added.