Travelling time and breaks – Advocate General opinion

The Advocate General (AG) has given an opinion on whether the time spent travelling to work from home, and then from last appointment back home, counts as working time for the purposes of the Working Time Directive. The AG indicated that employers must class this time as time when the worker is working and factor this into calculation of their rest periods.

The case was referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) by the Spanish Court and focuses only on those workers who travel as part of the normal duties e.g. a roving salesman or handyman whose job it is to repair things at different sites. The employees involved, technicians for a security systems company, would travel from home to their first customer in the morning, and then return home directly after finishing their last appointment. The employer did not class this as working time, instead counting this time as part of their required daily rest period.

The Advocate General made it clear that this travelling time should be excluded from the daily rest time, so that the required rest period should start when the employee arrives home at night, and then sets off again in the morning. In the UK, workers should generally have a rest period of 11 hours in each 24 hour period.

This opinion is only a preliminary indication and does not represent a binding decision. We must wait until the European Court of Justice makes its decision on the case – which could contradict the Advocate General – before we must consider the impact on employers. It may be some months before the ECJ ruling is published.

Nicola Mullineux

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