Last week the Court of Justice of the European Communities (CJEU) ruled that time spent travelling to and from first and last appointments by workers without a fixed office will be regarded as working time, which is thought to mean a significant impact on many UK businesses and organisations.
Emma O’Leary, an employment law consultant at ELAS, explains what the changes will mean for businesses:
“This change now means that the time a worker spends commuting to their first, and from their last, appointments will be counted as working hours, for which they must be paid. It is important, however, to note that this change is not applicable to everyone, only workers that do not have a fixed office and travel between clients.
In spite of that restriction, the scale of the effect of last week’s ruling should not be underestimated, according to O’Leary.
“This change will have a huge impact on thousands of businesses and millions of workers. Those that will be affected immediately include those that are care workers, plumbers, gas fitters, sales reps, mobile fitters, and those that employ them.
“The knock-on effect of this change by the CJEU is that hundreds or even thousands of businesses across the UK could find that they are in breach of other employment law regulations, including minimum wage breaches and working time regulation rules.”
O’Leary went on to offer advice to employers on how they must now adapt to ensure they are compliant, with organisations all over the UK keen to understand what this ruling means for them.
“It is important that all employers affected immediately check the wording within all of their employment contracts to ensure that this change is accounted for within their own legal documents. Furthermore, businesses will also need to ensure that these changes do not result in an employee being paid below the minimum wage (whether hourly or annually), or contracted to serve above the maximum number of hours permitted within a working week as stipulated by The Working Time Regulations (1998) (48 hours per week). Therefore, contract wording needs to be clear and Clients must ensure opt out agreements are signed by employees.”