Thanks to Paul Smith of Broadway House Chambers for preparing this case summary
In the case of mobile workers, is the time spent travelling from home to customers' premises to be regarded as 'working time' for the purposes of the Working Time Directive?
Yes, held the Court of Justice of the European Union in Federacion de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL.
Tyco employs technicians who install and maintain security equipment at customers' premises in Spain. The technicians are provided with a vehicle and they travel from their own homes to the locations they are instructed to install the equipment, sometimes of distances exceeding 100km. They are in contact with their employer by mobile phone and are not generally required to travel to an office or a central location save for the weekly purpose of collecting tools and materials.
For the purposes of the Working Time Directive and the relevant Spanish legislation, Tyco argued that the technicians' travelling time was a "rest period" rather than working time because they were not carrying out any installations or maintenance during those periods. The CJEU disagreed, stating that such an argument "would distort that concept and jeopardise the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers" and that it was working time.
Tyco also argued that because the technicians' have the individual autonomy to make decisions as to their itinerary and which route(s) to take during their travelling time, these factors put them outside the boundaries of the Directive. Once again, the CJEU disagreed and made reference to the fact that the travelling time can neither be shortened nor used freely by the technicians for their own interests. Accordingly, the technicians were "at the disposal" of Tyco and thus their travelling time is covered by the Directive.