The European Court of Justice has recently ruled that time spent by tradesmen travelling between their home and their clients, has to be regarded as working time.
In particular, the case was brought to the European Court of Justice by employees of the Spanish security company Tyco who argued that the time spent travelling from home to their first appointment should be classed as work, in accordance with the European Working Time Directive.
The European Court of Justice accepted employees’ argument stating that workers without fixed offices should be paid for the journey time to and from their first and last customers. Therefore, the ruling does not affect employees daily commute to their normal work place, but only those employees who spend a lot of their time travelling (so-called mobile workers).
This judgement amounts to a significant tightening of European Labour Rules as all the European employers who will not consider such time as working time may potentially be in breach of European Working Time Regulation Rules.
The judgement concerned seems to have further relevant implications such as, amongst other, the following:
- mobile employees may quickly exceed the number of hours they are allowed to work (i.e.: up to a maximum of 48 hours per week in Malta);
- companies may be forced to compensate the said employees for each working hour exceeding the legal average;
- companies may be also forced to adopt new health and safety measures with respect to the employees involved.
In view of this, we may presume that employers will start to regard time spent travelling as working time only if and when EU Working Time Regulations will be reviewed in order to ensure such employers do not have any additional cost in this regard.