Commuting time counts towards working hours, says European court

11th September 2015


A European court has ruled that time spent commuting should be considered as part of a working day, putting companies in breach of working hours rules.


The European Court of Justice has said those workers who do not operate from a fixed office should consider time spent travelling to and from first and last appointments as working hours.


This means those who employ care workers, gas fitters and sales representatives could be in breach of European rules on working hours.


The court said its judgement was to protect ‘the healthy and safety’ of workers as outlined in the EU’s working time directive, designed to protect workers from exploitation and sets out how many breaks workers should have.


Its goal is also to ensure no employee in the EU is obliged to work more than 48 hours a week.


The recent court cases centres around a Spanish security system fitting company called Tyco. The company shut its regional offices in 2011 meaning employees travel varying difference before arriving at their first appointment.


The court ruling 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.’


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