Travelling to work ‘is work’- The European court rules

This article was published on: 09/21/15

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EU law could mean you could be paid for your journey to work

This month a new law has been passed by the European court of justice (ECJ) that if you do not have a fixed place of work you should be paid for the time it takes you to commute. This is mainly for people who do contract work or travel to multiple places each day. The court heard how travelling from one appointment to another should be classed as working hours.

How does this new law work?

The new law means that if you don’t have a fixed office that you are based at you could be entitled to be paid for the time you have spent travelling to clients or appointments – it could also mean a change in how some business operate, as this new law could change to way we pay employees in the UK.  The new ECJ law means you could be paid for your time spent travelling to work, meaning your travel expenses and travel costs are covered.

What the new law means to you

The new law means that if for example you are a home care worker and you don’t already get paid to travel to patients you could be entitled. This could mean that potentially thousands of people could demand back pay. This obviously means your employer will have to pay you travel expenses or pay by the hour on how long it takes you to get to different clients. According to the BBC the people that would come under this new law would be loosely described as ‘mobile workers’. It is estimated that 975,000 people could be affected by this new law in the UK. It is also suggested that these 975,000 are working an extra 10 hours a week from travelling to and from appointments. Although most people who work in an office work remotely, it is unlikely to apply to these people. But there is a case to say that you could argue that your permanent place of work is useless as you are always out of your office.

Could you be entitled?

It is not yet clearly stated which employee groups are entitled to the new law as a full statement is yet to be published. When the full publication becomes more clear mobile workers will be able to get a full picture of what they may be entitled to. Early reports indicate that people who work in the health care profession are the most likely to see the benefits of this new EU law. If nothing else this will shake up the way employers go about working hours and how to pay its employees. Although it is said that it won’t affect the national minimum wage that businesses have to pay but it may bring about problems for them financially. It is also good to be aware that some private and unregulated companies may not take this new law into consideration which will leave thousands out of pocket.

Potential health implications of travelling long hours to work

Travelling to work can be stressful, especially if your commute takes over an hour. As research suggests that spending long hours travelling to work can cause stress and unhappiness. As according to the University of Waterloo in Canada the longer you spend travelling to work, the more likely you are to experience a sense of time pressure and are less satisfied with life. When you travel long hours to work frequently you are more likely to suffer a road traffic accident. This can obviously cause stress and time off work which can mean loss of earnings. Long commutes can also  lead to health issues such as extreme tiredness, anxiety and depression. So by this we can conclude that the implications of long commutes to and from work can be bad for your health in the long term.

Where to seek advice

If you believe that you may be affected by this new law then one of the first steps is to speak to your employer. It is also a good idea to see whether you come under the ‘mobile worker’ category and whether you are owed to be paid for the hours you spend travelling to and from clients or appointments. This new law could see a change in the way employers pay there staff and the general way we regard long commutes.