The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the first and last journeys made by mobile workers should be considered as 'working time', and should therefore be paid.

The case relates to a Spanish-based security company called Tyco Integrated Security SL. The firm's technicians use company vehicles to travel to appointments across Spain, but the employer does not treat the first journey of the day (from home to the first appointment) or the last journey of the day (from the last appointment to home), as 'working time'. Instead they regard this travel time as “rest time” under the Working Time Directive.

The Advocate General (AG) said that the travel time should be classified as working time.

The ECJ has agreed and declared that where workers do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, the time spent travelling each day between their homes and the premises of the first and last customers designated by their employer constitutes “working time” within the meaning of the Directive. Workers in such a situation should therefore be considered to be carrying out their duties over the whole duration of those journeys.

Chris Tutton, an employment partner at national law firm, Irwin Mitchell said:
"This ruling will have significant implications for companies that employ mobile workers who spend a lot of their time travelling to different appointments. It is not just relevant to maintenance technicians, it could apply to salespeople or care workers who visit those that they look after in their homes or even employees who travel regularly overseas through work.
"Many UK companies do not consider travel time outside normal working hours as working time, but now that the ECJ has said that it should, thousands of companies may need to make changes, for example, by ensuring that assignments at the start and end of the day are near employees' homes, adjusting working hours generally or asking employees to opt out of the 48 hour working week. If they don't, employees could quickly exceed the number of working hours that they are legally allowed to work and bosses could therefore soon find that they are operating illegally and at risk of facing costly claims against them.