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European Court ruling on travelling to work draws criticism

Certain types of work-related travel for workers without a fixed office should be regarded as working time, a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has stated.

In a case brought against the Spanish company Tyco, the ECJ had to consider whether journeys made by mobile workers between their homes and their first clients, and their last customers and home should count as working time.

The subsequent judgement that these journeys should count as payable work time as part of the European Union’s working time directive will have a number of implications for UK employers.

The national law as found in the NMW 2015 regulations apply.

Reaction to the ruling

Dr Adam Marshall, executive director of policy and external affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“This ruling underscores the importance of greater national decision-making on employment laws. Once again, a faraway court is taking decisions that could impact business prospects, job creation and economic growth in the UK.”

Allie Renison, head of EU and trade policy at the Institute of Directors, said that the ruling would “surprise and concern” many businesses in the UK:

“The notion that the period mobile workers spend travelling between home and their first client in the morning must count as working time goes above and beyond the protections intended by the law.”

Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills at the Confederation of British Industry, said:

“Following the court’s decision, it’s now important that the government reaches a robust and effective definition of the ‘normal workplace’, so that travel to infrequently-visited client sites is covered, not ordinary commutes.”

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