European Court of Justice Update

  1. Travelling to work is ‘work’, European Court rules

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has recently held that journeys made by workers who do not have a fixed or habitual place of work must count as working time for the purposes of the Working Time Directive.In this case, brought under the controversial working time directive, two engineers who worked for a Spanish firm installing and maintaining burglar alarms appealed over how their working hours were calculated. The court agreed with the men that their travelling time between home and their first and last customers of the day should be classed as working hours.The ECJ added that, because the workers are “at the employer’s disposal” for the time of the journeys, they act under their employer’s instruction and cannot use that time freely to pursue their own interests.

So what does this all mean?

This ruling could have significant implications for those Companies that employ mobile workers who spend a lot of time travelling between appointments e.g. care workers, gas fitters and sales people.

Companies who don’t already pay mobile workers for their travel time at the start and end of the day may now face pressure to do so, and face challenges in monitoring this. If mobile employees already opt out of the maximum weekly working time (i.e. 48 hours), this decision shouldn’t mean that existing working hours have to be reduced. However, employers should ensure that mobile workers are able to take at least 11 hours’ rest between getting home at night and setting off again the following morning.

Employers who are affected by this recent decision should consider ensuring that assignments at the start and end of the day are near employees’ homes, adjusting working hours generally or asking employees to opt out of the 48-hour working week.

2. New National Minimum Wage rates

From today (1st October 2015), the new national minimum wage rates are as follows:

· adult rate will increase by 20 pence to £6.70 per hour

· the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase by 17 pence to £5.30 per hour

· the rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase by 8 pence to £3.87 per hour

· the apprentice rate will increase by 57 pence to £3.30 per hour***

· the accommodation offset increases from the current £5.08 to £5.35

***This rate is for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age.***