The European Court of Justice officially ruled that the time employees spend travelling for their jobs now counts as work.


European Court


In Europe, the union’s working time directive prevents employers from having their employees work more than an average of 48 hours a week. The decision to count travel time as a part of the job was made to prevent those that don’t have a fixed office from overworking themselves. Positions such as sales representatives and care workers tend to travel a lot for their job, which can lead to these employees dedicating much more than 48 hours a week to their career. Now that traveling for work is considered time on the clock, many European employees will have an easier time maintaining a work-life balance.


“Employers may have to organise work schedules to ensure workers’ first and last appointments are close to their homes,” said Clive Coleman, a legal correspondent for BBC.


The European Court of Justice made their decision to protect the “health and safety” of their workers by ensuring that they aren’t being exploited by their employers to work more hours. According to the United States Department of Labor, U.S. employees must receive compensation for work related travel. However, this doesn’t limit the amount of time the employees can work, it just means that they will be paid for what they do while on the clock. Should the United States change the number of hours Americans are allowed to work?


While the work week in the United States is considered to be 40 hours long, many Americans work well beyond that length of time. Almost 40 percent of Americans work 50 hours or more each week, according to a 2014 Gallup poll; this can lead to overworked employees and is potentially putting their health at risk. The problem is that many Americans rely on their overtime hours to help make ends meet, and taking that away could do more harm than good for some people. For many Americans to be able to afford working less, there would need to be an increase in wages or paid leave for employees.    


With the new workers rights rule in Europe, there are thousands of employers that will have to readjust their employees’ hours on the job. According to European employment law barrister Caspar Glyn, this new rule can benefit “millions of workers.”       


Should more countries make traveling for work count as work? Will the United States follow Europe’s lead? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.