Opinion

Charlie Mullins: Being paid for your commute will price some firms out of the market

4 min read

14 September 2015

European bureaucrats have again proven they’re the enemy of enterprise by firing another sniper shot right into the heart of business with the latest crazy ruling that will put costs up and even threaten jobs.

The pen-pushers in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) have crept up on us and hit businesses with yet another ruling on the Working Time Directive that will ramp up employment costs. 

Its latest judgement has ruled that travel to and from home for mobile workers must be counted as “working time” and not “travelling time”

Sales reps and people like plumbers and other trades people, basically non-office based workers who travel to different sites each day, are now supposed to be paid for their travelling time, to and from the job. 

Put simply, that means one of my engineers who lives outside London, but has to travel for an hour to get to his first job in the capital, will have to be paid for that time rather than from when the job starts. It’s worth noting as well, this’ll also impact on the public sector and its own mobile workforce, which will also put further strain on their already reduced-budgets.

Can you imagine the amounts of extra red tape it’s going to take to run this ludicrous system where companies are going to have to monitor what time people get out the front door and what time they go back in? 

And, of course, whatever way you look at it, there is going to be a higher cost for the same amount of work being done. It’s just another attack on entrepreneurship from people who just don’t understand, or live in, the real world. 

While the union leeches will be rubbing their hands and crowing about how this will help squeeze everything out of employers that their members are entitled, most people accept they might have to travel to get to work. 

Read more from Charlie Mullins:

Norman Tebbit famously told the nation’s workforce to “get on their bikes” to get a job – but I bet he never expected that companies would have to compensate workers for that cycle journey!

It’s also pretty ironic when you consider the government is so keen on improving the nation’s transport infrastructure to enable people to commute further to work to improve job opportunities and economic productivity. 

And it backs up the call from the Institute of Directors (IoD), which is encouraging David Cameron to ensure employment policy is high on his European renegotiation agenda. 

Despite what the ECJ ruling might suggest, I reckon most people aren’t militant about having to make their journey to work.

And where is it going to end? What really is the difference between someone who travels to a job on a different site every day, and someone who spends the same amount of time going to the same office each day?

Looks to me like that’ll be the next place Europe will be sticking its unwelcome nose into! Whatever they do next, this barmy piece of legislation will hurt someone. Either businesses have to take a hit or it will impact on customers. 

Customers want a quality service, but they still want value for money and won’t keep paying more and more. 

That’ll mean firms will end up pricing themselves out of the market because each will have to deal with added costs imposed by a bunch of bureaucrats with no business sense whatsoever.