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Working Time Regulations and the mobile workforce

Employment Law

In September 2015, the European Court of Justice ruled that time spent travelling from a mobile worker’s home to their first and last place of work does count as working time under the Working Time Regulations.

Since this ruling there have been various cases addressing elements of the Working Time Regulations in respect of mobile workers. For employers who employ a mobile workforce it is essential to be aware of how the Working Time Regulations affect calculations for paid time, working time and the minimum wage.

The Working Time Regulations determine the maximum weekly working time, patterns of work and holidays, plus the daily and weekly rest periods. The regulations refer to worker’s health and safety with regard to the number of hours worked and do not have a bearing on pay.

Calculating working time: What is included?

The following should be taken into account when calculating working time to ensure employers meet the requirements set out in the Working Time Regulations:

  • Job-related training
  • Time spent travelling as part of an employees work
  • Working lunches, eg business lunches
  • Time spent working abroad
  • Paid overtime
  • Unpaid overtime an employee is asked to do
  • Time spent on call at the workplace
  • Any time that is treated as ‘working time’ under a contract
  • Travel between home and work at the start and end of the working day (for workers who do not have a fixed place of work)

For employers it is important to check that your working patterns, such as rest periods and average hours worked per week, meet the requirements set out under the Working Time Regulations when all of the above is taken into account.

Calculating Minimum Wage: What is included?

Pay is a separate issue to working time and is governed by the employment contract and National Minimum Wage rules. Employers are not required under National Minimum Wage legislation to pay workers the minimum wage for time spent travelling between home and work at the start and end of each day, therefore this time may be excluded from National Minimum Wage calculations.

The following should be taken into account when calculating hours worked for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage:

  • Time spent at work when an employee is required to be there
  • If an employee is kept at work but cannot work because of equipment breakdown this time should also be counted
  • Time on standby or on-call at or near their place of work (unless they are entitled to be at home)
  • Time travelling on business or training (for example travelling from one client to another)
  • Training time

Employers should check the specific wording of their contracts about pay and hours of work to clarify what they have agreed to pay their employees. Employers should consult an employment law expert if they need advice.

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