On Thursday, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that workers without an office must be paid for their commute.
In the ruling, the CJEU referred to a case involving workers of the Tyco Integrated Security and Tyco Integrated Fire & Security Corporation Servicios. Tyco employees install security systems, so much of their day is spent traveling. When Tyco closed regional offices, several workers were forced to being their daily rounds from home, and their commute times weren't considered to be company time. CJEU explains:
The distances between the workers’ homes and the places where they are to carry out work vary a great deal and are sometimes more than 100 kilometres, taking up to three hours to drive… Tyco calculates daily working hours by counting the time elapsing between when its employees arrive at the premises of the first customer and when they leave the premises of the last customer; thus, only the period of work on the premises and of the journeys between each customer is taken into account. Before the closure of the regional offices, however, Tyco used to count the daily working time of its employees as starting when they arrived at the office.
The new ruling means that Tyco workers, and others like them, will be paid for time spent in transit—and could mean big changes for several European companies. The BBC reports:
BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said it could have a "huge effect… Employers may have to organise work schedules to ensure workers' first and last appointments are close to their homes," he added. Chris Tutton, from the solicitors Irwin Mitchell, told the BBC: "Thousands of employers may now potentially be in breach of working time regulation rules in the UK."
The EU limits work to an average of 48 hours per week, with the option to opt out. The new regulation means that several companies will have to reassess their employees' hours, likely at great cost. Business leaders in the UK are especially upset by the ruling, reports the Telegraph. Adam Marshall, of Britain's Chamber of Commerce, commented on the decision, saying “Once again, a faraway court is taking decisions that could impact business prospects, job creation and economic growth in the UK… Companies of all sizes will be dismayed that Luxembourg is once again intervening in a way that stops EU member states from running their own labour markets."
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.