HR BLOG: Paid to travel

SOUNDS great right? Being paid to travel does sound fantastic, but in this instance it’s not quite as it seems (unless you’re a travel blogger!).

No, instead we’re talking about a European Court of Justice ruling on travel time. It means that the time travelling to and from the first and last appointments in a given working day should be regarded as working time. Under this ruling, employees with no fixed office should be paid for their travel time, and can also count the travel time towards their 48 hour working week.

The government’s attempts to block this EU legislation failed last year. This potentially leaves organisations from a wide range of industries in breach of not only European Working Time Directive (WTD) Law, but also quite possibly National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) laws if salaries drop beneath these rates as a result of increased working hours. Employers who employ predominantly salaried workers with no fixed office shouldn’t see a change in their wage bill, but care providers, firms with sales reps, and trades companies are most likely to be affected. We have seen no challenge on breaches on NMW or NLW related to travel time and WTD yet, but it may come and employers should be aware.

Care providers already operating within a strained industry are expecting this ruling and legislation to further inhibit their ability to perform the services they provide. The population is ageing, the National Living Wage has been introduced and working time changes could add a further level of complexity to organisations that employ staff that directly visit the homes of clients. It won’t reverse the trend of flying care home visits where care workers only have 15 minutes to provide their patients with their basic human needs – often at the cost of emotional support. Some workers in this industry have reportedly avoided conversations with patients to prevent delays! Will these travel time regulations help?

Health and safety is also a consideration. Travel time regulations should limit workers driving when over their 48 hour working week. And considering car accidents often occur from over-tiredness, we could see a positive impact here. However, adding the disruptive potential of travel time regulations to the other recent developments in employment legislation, this could prove to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for some smaller employers, demanding significant changes to the way that they operate.

Our tips? It’s now more important than ever to record accurately the number of hours that your employees work and how they travel and for how long. Our HR Dept Time and Attendance clocking service will help you there. For advice on your next steps, get in touch.

For more info, visit HR Dept Durham and Darlington.