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New European court ruling states travel time to work ‘should count as work’

Employees without a fixed office should be able to charge employers for travel to and from work

Workers fulfilling the roles of gas fitters, care workers and sales reps within companies could be in breach of EU working time regulations, if they chose to abandon a regional office, for example.

The ECJ said it was protecting the “health and safety” of workers, in line with the European Union’s Working Time Directive. The ruling revolves around a legal case in Spain involving Tyco, the security systems company.  Tyco’s technicians had no office base or fixed location. They travelled to and from home each day to whichever customer they were allocated, a distance that could be as much as 100km. The CJEU ruled that all of this travelling time should be classed as ‘working time’.

The ruling said: “The fact that the workers begin and finish the journeys at their homes stems directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.

“Requiring them to bear the burden of their employer’s choice would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers pursued by the directive, which includes the necessity of guaranteeing workers a minimum rest period.”

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