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Standby time ruled as working time by European Court of Justice


Standby time at home is working time where a worker is restricted from engaging in other non-work interests (ECJ)

The European Court of Justice has held that time spent by firefighters during which they are on “standby” at home but can be required to report for work within eight minutes must be “working time” under the Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC).

The obligation for the firefighters to remain physically present at the place determined by the employer (in this case, at their homes) and the constraints imposed on them in terms of location and being able to reach work in eight minutes, limits their ability to “devote” themselves to their personal and social interests. This can be contrasted with the situation of a worker who, during his stand-by duty, simply remains contactable by his employer. (Ville de Nivelles v Matzak (C-518/15).)

Nick Rowe, head of employment law at Lodders, comments as follows:

“This decision doesn’t come as any great surprise to me. It is, in my view, consistent with the themes in the relatively recent cases involving care workers, sleep-in shifts and working time. Employers in sectors deploying these type of “on-call” working patterns will need to be alive to this and the additional cost that this may mean to their businesses, as more workers and employees become aware of their rights in this respect.”

Lodders’ team of employment solicitors always offer accurate, focused and solution-based legal advice to a wide range of clients. We have forged an excellent reputation for advising SMEs, publicly owned companies, charities and other bodies in respect of all manner of employment related issues. For help or advice please contact Nick Rowe on 01242 229 096 or drop him an email.

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For help or advice please contact Nick Rowe on 01242 229 096 or drop him an email.