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Your work commute could count as working time following court ruling

If you don’t have a fixed place of employment, and travel to and from work appointments at the start and end of each day, you might just be lucky enough to receive a boost to your pay packet.

According to the European Court of Justice, Europe’s highest court, workers who don’t have a fixed office should be able to charge for their travelling time to and from work. Under present law this isn’t considered working time.

This means the companies employing people in roles such as electricians, care workers and sales reps could be breaching EU working time regulations if they do away with regional offices, reported The Independent.

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The ECJ ruling came during a Spanish legal case involving security systems company Tyco after it shut its regional offices down in 2011. This resulted in employees travelling varying distances before arriving at their first appointment.

The ruling said: “The fact that the workers begin and finish the journeys at their homes stems directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.

“Requiring them to bear the burden of their employer’s choice would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers pursued by the directive, which includes the necessity of guaranteeing workers a minimum rest period.”

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The directive referred to is the European Union’s working time directive, which is designed to stop workers being exploited by employers by setting out regulations on matters such as how long employees work, how many breaks they have and how much holiday they are entitled to.

Of course the effect of the ruling may not be more money for eligible employees, simply a different daily schedule.

“Employers may have to organise work schedules to ensure workers’ first and last appointments are close to their homes,” said BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman.

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