European Court of Justice Ruling on Commuting Times

In a case brought against Tyco by Spanish employees, the European Court of Justice recently ruled that 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.

Background Information:

In 2011 Tyco closed its regional offices in Spain and assigned all its employees to the central office in Madrid instead. Following this, employees of Tyco received task lists identifying the variouspremises that they were required to visit the next day within their geographical area of work and the timesof their customer appointments. In order to carry out their duties, employees were provided witha mobile phone which they used to communicate remotely with the central office in Madrid.In addition, employees were provided with company vehicles for travelling every day from theirhomes to the various places of work and to return home at the end of the day. Tyco then counted the time spent travelling between home and customers (i.e. the daily journeys between the homes of the workers and the premises of the first and last customers designated by Tyco) not as working time, but as a rest period.

With the judgement, the European Court of Justice has ruled that:

  • Where workers do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, the time spent by those 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 Working Time Directive (Directive 2003/88/EC)
  • The Court considers workers in such a situation to be carrying out their activity or duties over the whole duration of those journeys
  • The Court takes the view that the workers are at the employer’s disposal for the time ofthe journeys.
  • The Court considers the workers to be working during the journeys.

The ruling takes immediate effect across the entire EU for employees without fixed or regular workplaces who generally travel from home to and from a variety of locations. This means that Irish companies, including those employing care workers, gas fitters, installation engineers, and door- to-door salespeople, now potentially may be in breach of the EU Working Time Directive.

More information on the judgement can be found here. We advise you to contact your local Chamber or Peninsula Business Services for clarity around how the judgement may affect your business.