Employers may have to pay for staff travel time

By Anita Jaynes on 27 November, 2015

Swindon and Marlborough-based law firm Withy King is urging employers to check whether they have to pay for their staff’s travel time to and from customers’ business premises after the latest ruling from the European Court of Justice.

This ruling confirmed the Advocate General’s earlier opinion that employees with no fixed place of work, such as carers, cleaners or construction workers, must be paid for their travel time to and from customer sites at the beginning and end of the day.

“This is likely to have significant implications for employers, particularly in cases where significant numbers of staff are home based and travelling to and from customers’ premises is an integral part of their job,” explained Lauren Harkin, an employment law specialist at Withy King in Swindon. “In most situations, employers won’t be able to pass the costs on to their customers so this will undoubtedly impact their bottom line.”

She continued: “In practical terms, if employees generally have a set place of work and travel only occasionally to customer sites, employers may decide that little needs to be done. But, if employees have no set place of work and travel to clients’ sites from home on a regular basis, employment contracts and staff handbooks will need to be reviewed. Employers are also strongly advised to introduce policies which set out the circumstances under which employees will be paid for travel time and the payment mechanisms.

“It’s also worth factoring in the cost and expense of a potential claim,” advises Lauren Harkin. “Implementing a monitoring system in your policy may also help to ensure employees are not abusing the time spent travelling to and from their first and last appointment in order to be paid more.”
She added: “As with many aspects of employment law, there are grey areas and employers should take advice which addresses their particular circumstances.”

This travel time ruling centred on a case involving technicians employed by a Spanish company, Tyco, to install security equipment. The workers were given jobs each day which required travel to and from different client sites. They were paid from the time they arrived at the first site, and their pay ceased when they left the last client site. Tyco did not count the time travelling to the first site or home from the last site as working time. The European Court of Justice confirmed the Advocate General’s earlier opinion that this travel time amounts to working time.