SAFETY ALERT: September 2015 | WTD

Travel to and from work counts as working time


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Travelling to and from appointments or venues other than a normal place of work represents a large part of the working day for some people, which is often ignored when considering an employee’s actual working week. This will change following a European Court of Justice ruling that has determined that travelling time should be included with working hours.

Where employees travel for business purposes, employers also have a duty manage occupational road risk (MORR).

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that time taken to travel to and from work for non-office based employees will now be considered ‘working time’. This time has not previously been considered work by many employers. It means that firms may be in breach of EU Working Time Directive (WTD). Excluding those journeys from working time would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers pursued by EU law says the ECJ.

The decision centres around a legal case in Spain which affected a security company. The ECJ states that it was protecting the health and safety of workers as set out in the European Union’s working time directive. The court 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 their regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.”

Points to consider

  • Those employing service & maintenance teams, consultants, contract personnel, sales & marketing representatives will be affected by these new changes to working hours.
  • It will be insufficient for employers to allow their employees to just ‘opt out’ of the WTD provisions.
  • Employers will need to take into account actual working hours in conjunction with other activities that may increase exposure to higher risk e.g. driving, machine operations, nightshift working etc.
  • Employers will need to track their employees working hours regularly to ascertain any trends and/or behavioural changes that may impede employee safety e.g. stress and fatigue.
  • Useful resources for managing occupational road risk can be obtained from the HSE, British Safety Council and Green Flag.

Issued by C.G Lawson: SRC

© Steel River Consultants Ltd – 2015
Image 1 © Copyright Philip Barker and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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