The time taken to travel to and from work at the beginning and end of each day should count as working time under the law, according to the Europe’s highest court.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that workers without a fixed office should be able to charge for the time such journeys last, whereas at present they are not allowed to do so.
It could mean that companies employing such workers as electricians, gas fitters, care workers and sales reps could be in breach of EU working time regulations, if they chose to abandon a regional office, for example.
The ECJ said it was protecting the “health and safety” of workers according to the European Union’s Working Time Directive. The ruling revolves around a legal case in Spain involving Tyco, the security systems company.
The 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 the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.
“Requiring them to bear the burden of their employer’s choice would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers pursued by the directive, which includes the necessity of guaranteeing workers a minimum rest period.”