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Blog  »  September 2015
Sep 15

Posted by
Brian O'Keeffe

EU court rules travelling to work 'is work' for employees with no fixed office

Large numbers of workers could be entitled to more pay or a reduction in hours due to a ruling by the European Court of Justice. The ECJ has ruled that time spent travelling to the first and from the last appointments by workers without a fixed office should be regarded as working time.

The adjudication comes in a case brought by the Spanish trade union workers at the security firm Tyco. However, because the ruling covers the European Union working time directive, it is expected to affect workers across the bloc. The court said its judgement was about protecting the "health and safety" of workers as set out in the European Union's working time directive. One of its main goals is to ensure that no employee in the EU is obliged to work more than an average of 48 hours a week.

The British government tried to intervene in the case, arguing that allowing travelling time to be counted as working time would lead to substantially higher business costs. However the European court dismissed this argument and sided with the Spanish employees. This means time spent by tradesmen, sales representatives and carers driving to their first job of the day and home from the last job of the day will count as time spent in work. The ruling has angered some business groups such as Business for Britain who argue European courts are too powerful and have too much influence over British affairs.

The court ruling said: "The fact that the workers begin and finish the journeys at their homes stems directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.

"Requiring them to bear the burden of their employer's choice would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers pursued by the directive, which includes the necessity of guaranteeing workers a minimum rest period."

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Posted in Employment Update

Sep 15

Posted by
Debbie Clarke

Zero-hours Contracts up by 19%

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the number of workers on zero-hours contracts has increased by 19% from 624,000 to 744,000, a fifth in the last year alone,

A zero-hour contract is an employment contract that an employee has that has no set minimum hours or definite schedule of work. It allows employers to hire employees with no guarantee of work. Employees under these contracts tend to have to be very flexible and are expected to be "on call" and are only compensated for actual hours worked.

The main types of people on zero- hours contracts are single parents, students, people under 25 and over 65 and women compared to other employed staff. The main sectors offering zero-hours contracts are:

 - Tourism and hospitality sector
 - Health sector
 - Education sector

Zero-hours contracts are often considered controversial as these types of contracts do not offer enough financial stability or security. Employers could also abuse these type of contracts by offering more hours to favoured employees and fewer hours to those less valued employees. A refusal to work at any one time may result in a prolonged period of lack of work. Employees under zero-hours contracts also do not have the same employment rights as employees on traditional contracts. They only have basic social security rights such as maternity/paternity benefit, holiday pay and health insurance. Should an employee earn less than £5,772 in the tax year, they will not receive any credits for the state pension.

Research shows that workers on zero-hours contracts earn less per hour than employees in similar positions. A study by the TUC in December 2014 showed the average weekly earnings for such employees were £188 in comparison with permanent employees earning £479. The average person on a zero-hours contract typically works on average 25 hours per week. The ONS found that 40% of those on zero-hours contracts wanted to work more hours than they are offered.

Zero-hours contracts do offer flexibility for certain employees. Mark Littlewood, the Institute of Economic Affairs' director general has said "Not everyone is able to work at fixed and regular times and adaptable contracts such as these offer the opportunity of employment to students, single parents and many more".

Bright Contracts – Employment Contracts and Handbooks.
BrightPay – Payroll & Auto Enrolment Software.

Posted in Contract of employment, Employment Contract


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