[JURIST] The Court of Justice of the European Union [official website] ruled [press release] Wednesday that time spent traveling to and from first and last appointments by workers without a fixed office should be regarded as working time. The ruling [judgement] addressed a legal dispute brought by workers responsible for installing security systems for the Madrid based company Tyco [website]. The rule is meant to uphold the purpose of the working time directive [EU legislative materials], which seeks to ensure that no employee in the EU is obliged to work more than an average of 48 hours a week. Chris Tutton, from the solicitors Irwin Mitchell, acknowledged [BBC report] that “[t]housands of employers may now potentially be in breach of working time regulation rules in the UK.”
Worker rights are varied and contested throughout the world. In August a Thai court indicted British labor rights activist Andy Hall for making false statements in a report he co-authored that alleged severe labor abuse issues in Thailand’s food industry. In the US, President Barack Obama has been particularly focused on rights in the workplace during his time in office, and earlier this month he issued an executive order [JURIST report] that requires federal contractors to provide at least seven days of paid sick leave to employees. Also in August, the National Labor Relations Board, at the behest of Obama, changed [NYT report] the definition of employer-employee to make companies that staff using a contractor joint employers of the workers at the facility. This ruling is expected to have a particularly strong impact on fast-food workers.