ECJ working time ruling ‘a barrier’ to business growth

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A new EU ruling that travel time to and from first and last jobs of the day by workers with no fixed office should be regarded as work may have major implications for employers.

HR Team Managing Partner Breda Cullen explained that the European Court of Justice ruling means many firms – including those employing care workers, tradespeople and sales reps – may be in breach of EU working time regulations. The top European court has been accused of tormenting businesses with the latest in a long line of rulings which put the squeeze on employers.


Travel time for those categorised as ‘mobile workers’ has not previously been considered as work by many employers.

Ms Cullen said the ruling may have a significant impact on employers north and south of the border and how they manage their staff – financially, legally and operationally.

“This ruling will be a cause of concern for many employers. At a time when employers are increasingly focused on business growth and creating further employment, this move by the ECJ places yet another barrier in the way.


“Thursday’s ruling could leave employers – who are already limited to the 48 hour working rule –  in a position where they have to count this time as part of employees’ weekly hours of work.

“This will impact upon the majority of sectors where healthcare, trades and sales workers are employed and put additional pressure on staffing resources which for many employers are their largest overhead.

“To remain compliant employers will need to carry out a full audit of their mobile workers’ schedule – and travel time spent – and make amendments where necessary. Examples of changes may include updating contracts of employment, changing rotas or organising work closer to home where there are significant impacts on working hours.

“Employers will also need to look at salaried staff to ensure the national minimum wage is adhered to. With hours of travel incorporated into working hours an employee’s hourly rate could well be reduced below the legal requirement.”

This topic will be among those addressed at HR Team’s next seminar: ‘NI Employment Law’ in the The Innovation Centre, Northern Ireland Science Park, Derry on Thursday, September 24. For further information email, log on to, or call 02871 271882.

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