The European Court of Justice now tells us that for workers with no fixed place of work, the time spent travelling between home and a customer’s premises is working time under the Working Time Directive (WTD). This means that if there is no normal or fixed place of work specified in a contract and you do not work at a particular premises or office, your working day starts when you leave home and not when you arrive at your meeting with a customer.
What difference does this make? Quite simply, the WTD is the origin for our own national legislation called the Working Time Regulations. The UK Regulations set out maximum numbers of hours for working without a break. These regulations apply to all workers or employees, all of whom are entitled to 11 consecutive hours of rest in a 24 hour period during which they work for their employer, providing none of the exceptions apply. There is also an entitlement to a 20 minute break when daily working time is more than 6 hours, taken during the working day and not at the start or end of it.
So if you have to travel for two hours to a meeting, then the meeting lasts for four hours, there is an entitlement to a 20 minute break before you get back in the car to travel home.
It is widely accepted that the Working Time Regulations, which came in to force in the late 1990s have not been amended in a way that means they have kept up to date with the developments in some areas of employment law since then. However there is no indication that the sections dealing with rest breaks are likely to change.