New rules on travel time could cost Midlands firms dear, a legal expert has warned.
Ashley Gurr, partner and head of employment at Kerwoods Solicitors in Redditch, said the European guidance wasn’t mandatory yet, but it could be soon.
He was commenting on a Spanish case involving the Federaciòn de Servicios Privados del Sindicato Comisiones Obreras.
The employees concerned installed and maintained security equipment in homes and at business premises.
Although they were assigned to the head office, each had their own geographical area. They were each provided with a work van that they used to travel to and from customer premises, sometimes taking over 100 kilometres to reach a site.
The employer did not count the time travelling to the first customer’s premises and from the last customer’s premises as working time and so the workers challenged this.
Referred to the European Court of Justice by the Spanish courts, the Advocate General’s opinion was that where an employee has no fixed or habitual place of work, then time spent travelling from home to the first customer and from the last customer back home should be classed as “working time”.
If the ECJ agrees with the Advocate General – which is often the case, although the AG’s opinion is not binding – then it will impact UK employers.
It could affect the likes of plumbers, care workers, sales staff and a raft of others.
Mr Gurr said: “If this enters law then it is likely to have a huge effect on employers whose workforce is required to travel.
“It would have very significant implications for both costs and productivity.”