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A European Court Just Ruled That Travelling to Work is, in Fact, ‘Work’

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the time tradespeople spend travelling to and from their first and last appointments of the day must now be considered ‘working’ time’.

This means hours spent in transit during these periods will count towards the European Union’s 48-hour weekly limit as outlined by the Working Time Directive, which regulates how long employees work, how many breaks they have, and how much vacation they are entitled to.

Those regulations in mind, the Court’s judgement was made to protect the “health and safety” of employees, shielding them from potential exploitation. The matter stems from an ongoing legal case surrounding Spanish company Tyco’s decision to shut its regional offices in 2011, essentially forcing employees, who install security systems, to travel up to three hours from home to meet clients. Working hours were calculated based on the time of their first and last appointments, disregarding how long it took to actually drive there and back.

The decision will have major implications on thousands of employers across the United Kingdom, who may now be in breach of working time regulation rules.

“Employers may have to organize work schedules to ensure workers’ first and last appointments are close to their homes,” says BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman. Companies may also be forced to hire more employees, pay higher salaries to avoid breaking minimum wages laws, and grant more breaks between work.

Since the ruling only applies to workers without a fixed office, you can likely dismiss any developing hope that a similar ruling in Canada could see you one day cash in on your commute.


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