Travel Time


I make quite a song and dance in Escape Everything! and New Escapologist about commuting time.

It’s seldom counted as part of the working day, so any number of hours are lost to sitting in buses or train or traffic jams. It’s completely unpaid and completely fruitless. You’re trapped in a tin box and you’re slowly dying, en-route to somewhere you don’t really want to be.

Well, it looks like there’s been a breakthrough:

Large numbers of workers could be entitled to more pay or a reduction in hours after the European court of justice ruled that travel to and from some jobs could be counted as part of a working day.


At the moment it applies to people who don’t have a conventional, static workplace and instead commute from home to a job site. Social workers for example, might travel from their home to the home of a client. This sadly doesn’t include those who travel from home to the same office each morning. Still, it’s one hell of a start.

The judgment said: “During the necessary travelling time – which generally cannot be shortened – the workers are therefore not able to use their time freely and pursue their own interests.

There will, of course, always be a Negative Nancy:

one employment lawyer said the judgement could have unintended repercussions […] “The need to pay employees for travel time means that for some businesses the servicing of clients in remote areas may no longer be profitable.”

Good! There’s a popular school of thought that if your business is dependent on involuntary free servitude, you shouldn’t be in business.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

3 Responses to “Travel Time”

  1. Spoonman says:

    This is a very encouranging development. Maybe some companies will include that as part of their benefit package in order to attract and retain talent. Maybe that will eventually encourage more companies to expand work-at-home (aka “telecommuting”) arrangements.

  2. Tom Southern says:

    Good news! As someone who spent anything from 3 to 4 hours a day on bus journeys to and from work, I wholeheartedly welcome any move to acknowledge travelling for work purposes as part of the working day.

    Having also worked in a care/support job, I know however, that whatever the changes brought in, or the changes in work place policies to endorse it, pressure will be put on workers to carry on doing what’s been done for years.

    Poor working practices are often easier to manage both for workers and managers. Those who speak out, or wish to follow policy, are often “dealt with” to make them comply with what’s easy or forced out.

  3. I believe it Tom. We’re up against a tide of pointless tradition.

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