EU court judges that time for travelling workers starting and finishing at home to/from job should count as working time

10 Sep, 2015

Travelling from home to first client, patient or customer and home from the last one at the end of shift is rightly counted as working time which should now be paid for says GMB

GMB, the union for British Gas, AA, meter readers and home care workers, welcome the judgement by the European Court that journeys made by workers without fixed or habitual place of work between their homes and the first and last customer of the day constitute working time.

Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB Europe Officer, said “GMB welcomes today’s judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union as important confirmation that the journeys made by workers without fixed or habitual place of work between their homes and the first and last customer of the day constitute working time.

GMB has many members who work for British Gas, the AA and home care workers who start and finish their work at home, who will feel reassured that the court has so clearly recognised that travelling from home to your first client, patient or customer and home from the last one at the end of your shift is rightly counted as working time. This time should now be paid for.

The court also recognises that many workers are having to face constant changes in their work practices and environment, and the reality that an increasing number of workers begin and finish their work transits at their home is due to a decision by a company to close their offices or restructure work practices – it is not a choice or desire of the worker themselves, and workers should not be penalised because of this, or carry the burden of the employers’ choice.

The European Court importantly reminds us that the Working time Directive is vital health and safety protection for millions and millions of workers across the UK.

The Working Time Directive gives all workers the right to a minimum 28 day of paid holidays each year, a 20 minute rest breaks after 6 hours work, rest of at least 11 hours in any 24 hours; restricts excessive night work; 24 hours off after seven day of work; and provides for a right to work no more than 48 hours per week over a cycle.

The Working Time Directive is not “red tape” as the CBI assert. It was brought to combat the dangers of excessive hours to workers and the public. We must not forget that excessive hours were identified as the direct cause of the Clapham Junction rail disaster where 35 people died and 500 people were injured on 12 December 1988.

The collision was caused by a signal failure due to a wiring fault. An Independent inquiry, chaired by Anthony Hidden, QC, found that the signalling technician responsible had worked a seven-day week for the previous thirteen weeks.

It is not only workers without fixed and habitual places of work who will benefit from this judgment today but all workers in Britain and the EU. They need to ask themselves – are we prepared to see David Cameron and his Conservative Government rob us of these vital protections as he has given notice to the TUC this week he is hell-bent on doing? This judgment is only safe as long as David Cameron is stopped.

There is widespread opposition to any scaling back of employment and social rights in the EU reform negotiations. Other EU governments should oppose any such requests by the UK government, which would unravel the EU Treaty commitment to improving living and working conditions and trigger social dumping across the EU.

GMB and other unions are giving notice at next weeks TUC that they will recommend a “Leave” vote in the referendum if these rights and protections are removed.

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