Peripatetic Workers and Travelling Time

Employers face a fresh headache when it comes to employees and working time following a recent decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Spanish peripatetic employees (employees with no fixed location who travel from job to job in their role) complained that the time they were spending travelling from their home to their first assignment of the day, and the time spent from their last assignment home at the end of the day should be counted as working time; their employer disagreed and argued this was ‘rest time for the purposes of the Working Time Directive. In this case the employees had previously worked from regional offices. These offices had been closed, however, and so the employees now did not have a fixed base. It is important to note that they had not chosen to be without a fixed home location. The CJEU decided that this time should be counted within the employee’s working day. Travelling is an integral part of the role of a peripatetic worker, and these journeys are made on the basis of the employer’s instructions (so they are effectively “at the disposal of the employer”). This decision is not entirely surprising; indeed guidance on the Government website already suggests that those who have to travel as part of their job (such as travelling sales reps) should have this travel time included in their working day; the CJEU’s decision, however, goes further than this, including the travel to their first appointment or meeting of the day, and the travel home at the end of the day. Care workers, travelling salesman and plumbers are just some of the peripatetic employees who may be affected by this decision, although it is too early to know how great an impact this decision will have. Employers with peripatetic members of staff may, however, need to carefully consider how many hours a week these employees are working. Employees who have not already been required to do so may now need to opt out of the 48-hour limit on weekly work. Employers will need to factor in the further cost to their business of this travelling time. How employers select new recruits may also change, with those closer to their potential customer base (and therefore costing the employer less in travel time at the start and end of the day) perhaps being preferred. Get in touch if you have any questions about this recent ruling, or any other employment matter. The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Setfords Solicitors are a national full service law firm, with employment solicitors in Guildford and across the country.