Q: Please can you clarify the new working time rules that have come into force? I work for a landscaping firm that does pub garden installations. The jobs can be anywhere in the country and we only know a week in advance where we have got to go. Could be Scotland, could be Land’s End. I know they brought in some new regulations about time for travelling to jobs being counted as part of the working day but my boss doesn’t seem to have made any adjustments to the length of our working day on the job, or to our pay. Can he get away with this?
A: It is not really clear what you are expecting here. Given the nature of your work your contract of employment should set out how travel time is paid and how it is part of your normal working week.
The new Working Time Directive rule states that time taken to travel to a job outside a normal regular place of work, e.g. an employer’s business premises, will be counted as part of an employee’s weekly hours. The number of hours an employee can work in a week is limited to 48, including overtime. Workers can choose to ‘opt out’ of the 48-hour weekly limit but this must be voluntary and in writing. An employer can also request that a worker ‘opts out’, but they cannot sack or unfairly treat an employee who refuses to ‘opt out’. Workers can cancel their opt out agreement at any time by giving a minimum of 7 days’ or a maximum of three months’ notice, provided this is in the original written opt-out agreement.
Before confronting your employer about any issues you should read your contract and seek advice about how travel time is paid and how your maximum hours are treated. Your local solicitor will be able to advise.