Most of us know we are “in work” when we arrive at the office, depot or wherever. For some however, it is less straightforward. If you do not have a fixed place of work but are on the road or otherwise always working in different places. This is true if you are a salesman, a domestic carer, or possibly a maintenance person working for a landlord with lots of properties.
Until now, nearly everyone regarded work as beginning when you got to your first client or knocked on your first door.
A recent decision by the European Court of Justice has changed all that. It has ruled that you are “working” from when you leave home to when you get back. This means that the time you are travelling to and from work counts as work and should be paid.
What is not certain is how employers are supposed to know what time their employees left home to come to work or got home after work.
The British Government has expressed concern that it may be difficult and not necessarily desirable to control the amount of time employees spend doing other things on the way to and from work.
How does this affect Risk?
If one of your employees has an accident on the way to work it becomes an accident “at work”.
If one of your employees is responsible for causing an accident on the way to or from work, you could be held vicariously liable. That means that the alleged victim could hold you responsible.
How does it affect insurance?
You may find your Employers’ Liability and/or Public Liability policies do not cover you for claims occurring in this way. It is worth checking.
What can you do about the Risk?
- You might consider requiring all employees to report to a central office or other place at the start and finish of each day, so you can control things better.
- You might introduce some system of checking on employees activities before and after work to ensure they are not wasting the firm’s time.
- You might give your employees some training in minimising the risks they could incur during travel to and from work.
I know that none of these suggestions are cost-free and that some may damage relations with your employees. It is up to you to weigh the costs against the risks and make a decision. But make it consciously, not by default.