There has always been some uncertainty about working time in relation to mobile workers/employees and what is actually classed as ‘working time’.
There are many variations such as:
- An employee who works at home and travels to client site.
- An employee who is based at the employer’s premises but occasionally works at home, including occasions where s/he travels to the client site from either the employer’s premises or their own home.
- An employee based at an employer’s site but occasionally travels direct to a client site at the start or end of the day.
- An employee may commence their working day from either their employers’ premises or their own home depending on the demands of the day and how a schedule is provided and there may be occasions where there is a gap between visiting clients where the worker may or may not be under the control of the employer.
Travel from home to the employer’s work premises and back home is not classed as working time for the purpose of the Working Time Regulations 1998, any travel from the employer’s premises in connection with work will be classed as travel time.
So what happens when an employee works from home and travels to their clients sites throughout the day until such times their work is complete and they travel home again?
Well we have to consider the following:
- What does the employment contract state?
- What control does the employer have over the employee’s assignments/schedule?
- Was the employee carrying out the employer’s work activity?
Generally we can state that the time which a mobile employee spends travelling from home to a client is likely to be classed as working time where it is an integral part of their job.
There is a current Spanish case where the ECJ decision is expected on 10th September 2015 to help provide some clarification. The Company, Tyco employees who fitted and repaired security equipment were assigned to the Company’s head office but travelled to customers each day from home in their company vehicles. The Advocate General has delivered his opinion that the time spent travelling from home to the employee’s first customer and from the last customer to the employee’s home should be counted as working time.
Whilst the opinion of the Advocate General is not binding the ECJ usually follows it.
Working Time Considerations
An employer has a legal obligation under the Working Time regulations 1998 to ensure workers have the correct rest periods, (there is no obligation for you to pay these breaks) there are some variations to these (shift workers being an example) but generally it is:
- 20 minutes break within a 6 hour work period
- 30 minutes for workers under 18 for periods of 4.5 hours
- A daily rest period of 11 hours within a 24 hour period
- An uninterrupted weekly rest period of at least 24 hours
What should you do?
As an employer it would be advisable to ensure that in practice you are meeting your obligations towards your employees under the Working Time Regulations and as such here are a few pointers:
- Review your contract wording for mobile and home employees.
- Don’t make any unilateral changes to an employee’s contract if the wording is not quite right, consult and seek agreement.
- Ensure that relevant rest breaks are given.