Travelling for work law

09 July 2019

The law on travelling for work can be difficult to understand, especially for employers who have a number of staff with different employment arrangements. But it’s important to understand the law on travelling time to ensure staff get paid correctly and receive the appropriate amount of rest. Here are the laws you need to remember to be compliant.

Travel time to work

It’s made clear in the Working Time Regulations 1998 time spent travelling to work from home, and from work to home (for those with a fixed place of work), is not considered working time. Thankfully, this if fairly straightforward for you. It means there’s no need to pay these individuals for hours spent commuting at the beginning and end of a working day.

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Working time directive - travel time

Employment law for travel to work is more complicated than this, though. Where many employers fall short is in understanding that travel during the working day for business purposes should get counted as working time. For example, an employee whose duties require them to travel from one site to another for the purposes of work or training, after their working day has begun, should get paid for this time. Employers should adopt the same rule for staff required to travel on a business trip to meet clients or customers. In these situations, it would be wise to pay employees their normal working hours. This is even if a significant part of that day gets spent travelling overseas. It’s also advisable to offer staff time off in lieu for any business travel that falls outside of their standard working hours.

Paid travel time law in the UK

A ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2015 set a new precedent for mobile workers who are without a fixed place of work. This ruling found the time mobile workers, such as private care workers, spend travelling to clients from their home at the start and finish of the day should get counted as working time. It’s vital you understand when travelling time as working time. This will help you to meet national minimum wage (NMW) requirements. Why is this important? Well, a misunderstanding of travelling time was a key reason given by those caught out by HMRC’s most recent naming and shaming exercise of NMW offenders. Employers also need to consider how travelling time factors into the maximum time employees are legally allowed to work each week. Unless they sign an opt-out agreement, individuals are only permitted to work an average of 48-hours per week over a 17-week period. If you fail to factor in travelling time as working time, it may be in breach of the Working Time Regulations. You should ensure contracts account for the specific employment relationship and the various rules that surround travel time. Getting a handle on this will be key to avoiding headaches further down the line to avoid the risk of legal action from disgruntled staff.

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