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Limited working hours effect

SEVERAL freelances have contacted us about a ruling on working hours. Does it affect us? How?

On 10 September the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that when workers "do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, the time spent by those work- ers travelling each day between their homes and the premises of the first and last customers designated by their employer constitutes 'working time'... "

This was widely reported as saying that time travelling to work - at a place other than a regular office gig - counts as work. Unfortunately, it’s a lot narrower than that. It affects only the Working Time rules on your maximum working week and breaks between shifts. A briefing from, an international tax law firm's advice website, makes it clear that UK workers are not entitled to be paid for these hours. Nor does it change UK taxation rules.

The rule applies to workers - employed or freelance - who are not required to clock on at an office before they go out on a job and whose contracts do not specify that their home is their place of work. It has no effect at all on gigs where you are simply paid for the words or pictures you deliver and are not considered to be a "worker".

The Freelance can see the ruling affecting a typical photographer, for example. They are now entitled to 11 hours' clear rest between assignments and a clear 24 hours off every week. They may not be required to work more than 48 hours in a week, including the abovementioned travel time.

Unless, that is, they are "asked" to sign a new contract opting out of the Working Time rules.

Please do send such new contracts to - who will respect your anonymity.

Incidentally, the rule for deciding what travel time counts toward working time is almost exactly the same as our first approximation of the rule for what travel can be claimed as an expense against UK tax. We have to add that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs consider each case on its merit.

Last modified: 05 Oct 2015 - © 2015 contributors
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