Michelle Kemp from Kemp Jones Employment Law Solicitors and Advocates
If you had read the dramatic comments and articles by employment lawyers and HR consultants on the recent case involving travel time between home and the first and last jobs of the day, you would have thought this ruling was going to be a massive and costly problem for business
And this is why
Time spent by mobile workers – field engineers, sales people etc – travelling between home and the first and last appointments of the day will count as working time under the Working Time Regulations IF they have no fixed place of work
But, IF they do have a fixed place of work – the employer’s site or base – this type of travel will not count as working time
Does it even matter if some travel does count as working time?
In short, it doesn’t
Because while it might count as working time under the Working Time Regulations – and so count towards the maximum 48 hour working week – you almost certainly won’t have to pay for it
The contract of employment is unlikely to say that this type of travel time will be paid. Check to be sure
The National Minimum Wage rules shouldn’t be an issue as both those rules and case law exclude travel time between home and work from the right to be paid the National Minimum Wage
So, is there any downside at all?
If workers might exceed the average 48 hour working week we need to ensure they have signed opt outs
There is also provision in the Working Time Regulations for minimum daily rest periods. Depending on the amount of travel time each day workers might not be able to take their full rest.
This is hardly the end of the world.
Workers can waive this right and, if they don’t, there are other ways of dealing with the issue such as giving them additional rest periods at a suitable time.
Be very sceptical of scaremongering “warnings” in the local or national press about cases or pieces of legislation which apparently will devastate the world of business
Significant and detrimental changes in the law are rare
And, always remember, there are very few problems – in employment law as in business generally – which can’t be solved with a bit of ingenuity and care