This week in the employment law press there has been coverage of the opinion
of the Attorney General to the European Courts which has been given in a
case involving peripatetic workers. This covers those who work from their
home base and travel to meet customers, whether that is for sales purposes
or perhaps to undertake maintenance or the like.

The particular Spanish employer concerned was not paying the staff for time
they spent leaving their home and making it to the first customer of the day
or for the time spent from when they left the last customer of the day to
return home again. Of course, there has been lots of attention in the UK
recently to similar issues in relation to care workers and the Penarth based
company who was not including the travelling time that carers spent between
their service users as working time and therefore not paying the National
Minimum Wage for that time as well. It is not much of a shock that the
opinion finds that such travel time is indeed ‘working time’.

Someone who travels e.g. to a depot to book in in the morning and perhaps
pick up their job sheets will be travelling on working time then when they
leave that depot to visit the first customer but not when they travel to the
depot. Ordinary travelling to a work place such as an office or factory is
not counted as working time – we all have to get to work and home again at
the end of the day.

What about the situation where somebody has to travel perhaps long distances
such as foreign trips? This may fall under the ‘special cases’, envisaged by
regulation 21 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 – paragraph (a) refers to
workers’ activities where the place of work and place of residence are
distant from one another or different places of work are distant from one
another before then going on to disapply the rules around rest breaks under
regulation 11 which normally requires 11 hours of uninterrupted rest per day
(daily rest).  Compensatory rest should therefore be granted ‘wherever
possible’ under regulation 24. There isn’t any definition of what ‘distant’
means – those who work off-shore are expressly included, so it probably
covers those spending a significant proportion of time away from home and
travelling to reach a work meeting, such as overseas attendance at
conferences or meetings.

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