Q: What is a peripatetic worker? A: A worker who spends short periods of time at various different places who travels regularly to perform their work. Such an arrangement is likely then to involve a lot of driving. Q: How, then, should time spent driving between different assignments be treated for the purposes of working time?
A: The Advocate General has offered some guidance following an opinion in Federación de Servicios Privados del Sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL. This case concerned Spanish workers who were employed to install and maintain security equipment at various locations across the country. The workers were assigned to their employer’s head office in Madrid. However, each worker had a specific area to cover. They were provided with company vehicles and were required to travel from their homes to the various premises to carry out the work. The employer’s policy provided that the first and last journeys of the working day (i.e. from the worker’s home to the first job and from the last job back home) were not part of working time. In other words, they were only deemed to be working from the minute they arrived at the first job up until the minute they left the last job of the day.
The workers alleged that this practice infringed the EU Working Time Directive. Following a referral from the Spanish court, the Advocate General has opined that for such peripatetic workers, who do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, time spent travelling from their home to the first assignment and then from the last assignment to home, should be regarded as working time.
There is no middle ground between working time and rest time. The Advocate General was satisfied that the three conditions for working time were satisfied: (1) being at the workplace – met because the very nature of peripatetic work, involving daily travelling, renders travelling an integral part of the job; (2) being at the disposal of the employer – met because the travel was to customer sites for the benefit of the employer, the routes being set by the employer who could change instructions at any time; and (3) that the employees be engaged in work duties – met because travelling was integral to the performance of the activity.