A decision in the European Court of Justice* could lead to mobile workers having their pay boosted.
The Spanish case concerned security installation and maintenance staff who were employed to cover specific regions. The arrangement under which they were regarded as being ‘in work’ from the time they arrived at the first customer’s address up until the time they left their last customer has been found to be contrary to the Working Time Directive.
All the hours from the moment they left their home right up to the time they arrived back again were to be regarded as ‘working time’.
In reaching this decision it was taken into account that the employer determined the list and order of the customers for them to visit, and the appointment times, so they were not really free to use their time as they pleased and could not be treated as resting.
The fact that the workers were not assigned to a fixed or habitual place of work meant that travelling was an integral part of their work, which needed to be regarded as such whether they were travelling to their first appointment or home from their last appointment.
It is a ruling that will impact all workers who do not have any specific work base.
Not only will the decision have an immediate impact on calculating the total hours worked and required rest times, consideration will also need to be given as to the terms regarding wages and whether these extra hours will lead to the employees being paid less than the national minimum wage.
However, as a consequence of this ruling it may be that employers will now look to change working operations so as to assign all ‘mobile’ workers to a base from which they have to start each day and return each night.
* Federación de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL and anor