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Good evening all,

 

 

I'm after some advice regarding changes my employer has made to my working day.

 

 

Following the ruling in 2015 regarding travel to work time for mobile workers being counted as "working time", my employer has brought in changes at work from the beginning of this month.

 

 

I work in the utilities industry, and my job involves me travelling around from site to site carrying out my duties. These sites include both company assets and customer properties. At the end of the working day, it is required that I return to my base location.

 

 

Up until now, my working day starts at home and finishes when I clock out at base. We have always been paid from when we leave home until when we clock out at base. Travel home time has always been unpaid and our own time.

 

 

From 1st October my company has now changed this to the following:

 

 

We now clock in as normal at home, yet we now only start getting paid from when we reach our 1st job or after half an hours travel, which ever is the shorter. We then clock in again to start our "paid time". We then continue as before and clock out at base and then travel home in our own time as before.

 

 

For the majority of my colleagues, their first job is over 30 minutes away from home, meaning that we are now having to do an extra 30 minutes a day for the same pay. This has in effect increased our working week by up to 2.5 hours.

 

 

Having checked my contract, it states that I work a 37 hour week Monday to Friday, however after this change I will now have to do 39.5 hours a week for the same pay. My contract also states that any overtime is on an "ad hoc" basis only.

 

 

The company have stated that the change to the EU law has brought in this change and that it is therefore not negotiable because it is now the law!

 

 

Having trawled the internet, I cannot find anything which says that this ruling governs pay as this should be a matter for UK courts, not EU.

 

 

Do I have any grounds to challenge this?

 

 

Thanks in advance.

 

 

MP.

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are you in a union?

 

have you done it for sufficient years for it to be customer and practice?

 

have they given you a notice period before it take effect?

 

In fairness a half hour travel time is entirely reasonable so any efforts will most likely just stall its implementation, not prevent it. Decide if it is worth being labelled company trouble maker for thr sake of about 12 weeks delay.

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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I would say they are walking a fine line, this is from ACAS

 

Working Time Directive - Mobile workers - September 2015

 

The European Court of Justice, in a recent case gave the judgement that mobile workers who have no fixed place of work, and spend time travelling from home to the first and last customer should have this time considered as working time. The Court added that because the workers are at the employer's disposal for the time of the journeys, they act under their employer's instructions and cannot use that time freely to pursue their own interest.

 

Acas is assessing the impact of this judgement on workers and employers in Great Britain and will provide more detailed guidance when it is available.

 

Employers and employees should be aware that this may have an impact on breaks if the working day is extended as a result of travelling time. It is also worth checking employment contracts to see what they say about travelling time.

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But he has a fixed base location.

 

How long does home to base take?

 

Does travel time take you under minium wage?

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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There may be a fixed base location, but he is still classed as a mobile worker. The company apparently require him to go direct to the first job, not go to the base in the morning.

The downside of fighting too hard is that they may insist you are at the base for start time and that travel will be unpaid.

 

It would seem they consider the first 30 mins as an 'average' time to base, but I don't think that is covered in the mobile workers section of the directive, hence fine line!

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now, that is a two edged sword because if the base is less than half an hour from home then the worker wins because it would be unlikely that many of ther first jobs would be nearer.

 

There is another matter though, HMRC has made a ruling on taking company vehicles home even when you dont use them for personal use as being a taxable benefit purely because of the travel to work aspect.

 

If I were your union I would be insisting that all company vehicles are kept at the base so no employee falls foul of this new ruling. This would massively disrupt their ability to get people out to sites in a reasonable time and would be cheaper for them to go back to the old system becasue the time available for actual work to be done would increase by an hour a day..

 

Overtime being ad hoc is not a concern, it just means unplanned or as and when and without further conditions means that you are givena good amount of leeway in doing what is required rather than set hours or conditions to claim it..

Edited by honeybee13
Paras
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Thanks for all your replys.

 

 

Been trying to find out more info before coming back. I was on holiday when the initial announcement was made to the team, so been getting some clearer info.

 

 

In response to the questions:

 

 

No, I'm not personally in a union, but some of the team are. Apparently, the union has had wind of this for a while and the company has refused to negotiate on the matter. The union is asking its members to rebel and keep working as before, and if wages are deducted, then claim for unlawful deduction of earnings. They reckon it is breach of contract!

 

 

We were told 2 weeks before it kicked in, so mid September with it starting on 1st October. Only a briefing, no official document detailing the change, although there was a general info and guidance page created on our internal intranet. No amendments to any contracts have been issued to anyone.

 

 

The custom and practice is an interesting one, and has been mentioned around the office. Individuals have previously used this argument successfully when the company has tried to alter their overtime. For the record I have been working to the old arrangements for 20 years, however I am one of the longest serving members of the team. Some of the lads have only been here for a couple of years.

 

 

I personally live 45 miles away from base, which takes between 1 hour and 1 hour 15 minutes to travel depending on traffic. Some live very close (a few miles) and the furthest away lives about 60 miles away. We are all scattered around our supply area and generally work the rounds closest to our homes. We need to take the vans home because we are all required to participate in out of hours standby rotas, so I can't see the company making us leave the vans at base, as is wouldn't be feasible.

 

 

Travel time doesn't take us under the minimum wage, as we all earn 25 - 30K.

 

 

After doing some digging it seems some other departments had the chance to be bought out of their old agreements if they accepted the new time rules with compensation being paid, however we were not given that opportunity and it has been forced on us with no compensation. I work for a large utility company with many different departments and 3,000 employees, so communication between different areas often doesn't get through.

 

 

The union said to the company that under no circumstances should they use this ruling to justify these changes, however some managers chose to ignore this and I think were hoping that the lack of knowledge of the staff on such matters would deter us from challenging it. However, apparently the company could pay us for travel if they wanted to, but decided not to!

 

 

We are considering putting in a collective grievance to see where that takes us. I personally feel like continuing to record my times as normal and see what action they take. If they are in breach of contract they would be foolish indeed to try and bring any disciplinary action against me. As long as I complete my 37 hours, as far as I am concerned then they should pay me my full salary.

 

 

MP.

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To know if they were in breach of contract you'd need a copy of the contract and any travel and overtime policies that formed part of it so best get collecting documents.

 

I think, on the salary range here, they will be able to impose with notice, unless the union get involved.

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Yes, I have asked for an up to date copy of my contract from HR.

 

 

The copy I have only mentions ad hoc overtime and is from when I first started with the company. However I am now on an out of hours standby rota of 1 in 8 and also a contractual weekend overtime rota of 1 in 8 with 8 hours guaranteed on a Saturday at time and a half, and 8 hours on a Sunday at double time. This has been the case for about 10 years.

 

 

I started on these rotas in 2000 when it was 1 in 6 which then went to 1 in 7 a few years later, and finally to 1 in 8. I was compensated for these previous changes.

 

 

My contract also states a 37 hour working week Monday to Friday, although the newer lads have contracts which state 37 hours Monday to Sunday. However we all work to the same Monday to Friday pattern with all work on weekends paid as overtime. There are only 5 of us left in our department on the old style contracts out of 17.

 

 

Like I said previous, only 2 weeks notice given and this was verbally not written.

 

 

What is annoying is that we haven't been given any extra work because of this, so we get back to the office in the same time, it just means that we have to hang around for an extra half hour before clocking off, so it seems pointless as the company aren't saving any money.

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Yes, I have asked for an up to date copy of my contract from HR.

 

 

The copy I have only mentions ad hoc overtime and is from when I first started with the company. However I am now on an out of hours standby rota of 1 in 8 and also a contractual weekend overtime rota of 1 in 8 with 8 hours guaranteed on a Saturday at time and a half, and 8 hours on a Sunday at double time. This has been the case for about 10 years.

 

 

I started on these rotas in 2000 when it was 1 in 6 which then went to 1 in 7 a few years later, and finally to 1 in 8. I was compensated for these previous changes.

 

 

My contract also states a 37 hour working week Monday to Friday, although the newer lads have contracts which state 37 hours Monday to Sunday. However we all work to the same Monday to Friday pattern with all work on weekends paid as overtime. There are only 5 of us left in our department on the old style contracts out of 17.

 

 

Like I said previous, only 2 weeks notice given and this was verbally not written.

 

 

What is annoying is that we haven't been given any extra work because of this, so we get back to the office in the same time, it just means that we have to hang around for an extra half hour before clocking off, so it seems pointless as the company aren't saving any money.

 

They are saving money though. Because if you clocked in your working hours at home they would have to pay for all that time. So their bill would increase from what it currently is. Or they would be increasing your working hours without a commensurate increase in pay. It's pretty common for many employees to have a notional "commute " times before which they cannot claim pay or expenses when they have home working arrangements away from their base of work. That's not to say that there isn't room for some compromise, but their argument had a basis. Understanding that will perhaps help you find that compromise.

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But that's the point here, we have always previously been paid from home! - Clock in at home, finish at base.

 

So in terms of the new regulations, the company was already complying with the ruling.

 

 

They seem to be using this ruling to now move the goalposts.

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