Travelling Time Is Working Time

19 Jun 2015

You might think the tentacles of the Federacion de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones Obreras can't possibly stretch to the UK. That doughty French Advocate General of the CJEU, Yves Bot, has other ideas. He's just published guidance to the Court which will ruffle feathers if it is followed – and the Court usually does follow the AG.

The case is brought on behalf of 75 technicians who install and service security systems in industrial and commercial premises across provincial Spain.  The Spanish heartland is vast and technicians are often required to drive long distances to customers' premises. The employer doesn't pay for the first and last journeys of the day from and to the technicians' homes. A similar arrangement is common in the service and domiciliary care sectors in this country though I doubt UK employers go as far as their Spanish counterparts in regarding this travelling time as rest time.

The Spanish Court thought the technicians should be paid for the first and last journeys of the day because they were told which route to follow and were provided with a company vehicle.  Therefore the vehicle became a workplace and they must have been on working time when following the prescribed route to the customer. Furthermore, when he is driving to the first appointment the technician cannot be assigned to other jobs.

AG Bot agrees. At the heart of his opinion he writes:

"36. Peripatetic workers may be defined as being workers who are not assigned a fixed or habitual place of work. Such workers are therefore required to work at different premises every day.

37.  It follows from that definition that travelling for those workers is an integral part of being a peripatetic worker and therefore inherent in the performance of their activities.

38.  The workers at issue in the main proceedings must of necessity travel in order to carry out the installation and maintenance of security systems for the various customers of the company that employs them. In other words, travelling by those workers is a necessary means of providing their technical services to the customers designated by their employer. Such travelling must therefore be regarded as forming part of the activity of those workers."

The implications are obvious and are likely to be with us by the end of the year.