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What does the contract say about this?
Hi there, this can still be somewhat of a legal grey area. As far as the law is concerned, a worker is only entitled to be paid for time which amounts to 'working time', which according to the Working Time Regulations 1998 includes ‘any period during which a person is working, at his employer’s disposal and carrying out his activity or duties’. As you can see travel time is not specifically included in there so it comes down to an interpretation of whether it can be included in this definition.
Guidance from the Government's Business Link advice service suggests that the definition of working time includes 'travel as part of a worker's duties', but would not include travelling to the workplace, unless the travel is undertaken following "booking on" or reporting to an assigned depot or booking-on point, or time spent travelling outside normal working hours.
Recent guidance from the Advocate General of the European Courts of Justice has provided further clarification on this. His advice is not binding but it is usually followed by the ECJ so it can still be useful. It said that in general there are three aspects to 'working time', those being (a) at the workplace, (b) at the disposal of the employer, (c) engaged in work duties.
However, since then a formal decision in the ECJ was handed down in the case of Tyco Integrated Security. The company employed technicians who install and maintain security equipment at customers' premises in Spain. The technicians were provided with a vehicle and they travelled from their own homes to the locations they were instructed to install the equipment. They were not generally required to travel to an office or a central location before attending the clients’ sites. The Court decided that the time travelling from home to their customers’ locations was working time because the workers were ‘at the disposal’ of the employer and accordingly it should be included in their normal working hours.
So if there is a requirement to travel to/from specific destinations as part of the working day and duties and at that time the worker is entirely at the employer’s disposal, they can certainly argue that this time constitutes ‘working time’ and should be taken into account when calculating their remuneration and count towards their working hours.
Te issue then is what should you get paid. If you are working on an hourly rate then it is easier to be able to show what the rate is. If you are however on a salary and your contract says you can be expected to work additional hours and that overtime is not paid at a specific rate the employer can potentially not pay you extra at all but these hours would still count when ensuring your are not paid below the minimum wage on average and also be included when calculating your weekly hours to ensure you do not go over the 48 hour weekly limit.
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