EU Court of Justice: Travelling time to and back from work to be considered working time

14 Sep 2015

In a judgment issued last week, the Court of Justice of the EU ruled that the journeys made by workers without fixed or habitual place of work between their homes and the first and last customer of the day constitute working time. This brings concrete improvements for many mobile workers - especially in the care sector.

EU Court of Justice: Travelling time to and back from work to be considered working time

In particular, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled in case C-266/14 that where workers do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, the time spent by those workers travelling each day between their homes and the premises of the first and last customers designated by their employer constitutes working time within the meaning of the directive.* The CJEU based its judgment on three justifications:

1. Workers in such a situation to be carrying out their activity or duties over the whole duration of those journeys: The journeys of the workers to the customers their employer designates is a necessary means of providing their services at the premises of those customers. Not taking those journeys into account would enable the employer to claim that only the time spent carrying out a service at the customer falls within the concept of working time, which would distort that concept and jeopardise the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers;

2. Workers are at the employer’s disposal for the time of the journeys: The workers act on the instructions of the employer, who may change the order of the customers or cancel or add an appointment. During the necessary travelling time the workers are therefore not able to use their time freely and pursue their own interests;

3. Workers are working during the journeys: If a worker who no longer has a fixed place of work is carrying out his/her duties during his/her journey to or from a customer, that worker must also be regarded as working during that journey. Given that travelling is an integral part of being such a worker, the place of work of that worker cannot be reduced to the physical areas of his work on the premises of the employer’s customers.

Commenting on the judgment, CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “This judgment is a very important ruling for mobile workers. It will bring concrete improvements for instance for workers in the care sector – many of which CESI represents as a trade union confederation in Brussels.”

Follow this link to access more information about the case. An official executive summary is available here.

* The EU working time directive defines working time as any period during which the worker is working, at the employer’s disposal and carrying out his activity or duties, in accordance with national laws and/or practice. Any period which is not working time is regarded as a rest period. The full text of the directive is available here.