The European Court of Justice has ruled that time spent travelling to and from first and last appointments by workers without a fixed office should be regarded as working time.
The ruling is the latest in a series through European and UK courts reinforcing the laws around employee working time.
The decision could have significant implications for companies that employ mobile workers who spend time travelling between appointments. Firms who employ care workers, gas fitters and sales reps could find themselves in breach of EU working time regulations.
The Working Time Directive is intended to ensure that no employee in the EU is obliged to work more than an average of 48 hours per week.
Employers will potentially need to obtain staff opt-outs to the working time limits and could also be faced with significant increases to pay costs.
The ruling follows a case involving Spanish security installation company Tyco Integrated Security SL. Previously work time for Tyco employees included driving from a regional office with equipment to the customer location.
However, after closing all the regional offices and basing employees at home with their own transport and equipment, Tyco claimed that working time only began once the employees reached their first customer of the day, and ended once they left the final customer.
The Court said the judgment was about protecting the health and safety of workers.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.