“On Call” at Home Classed as Working Time

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In a recent Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) case, Ville de Nivelles v Matzak, it was held that stand-by time whilst at home but within 8 minutes travel time from the employee’s workplace would be “working time”.

The Claimant had been a volunteer retained fire-fighter in the town of Nivelles, Belgium since 1980. He was required to be contactable at all times and within 8 minutes’ travelling distance from the fire station whilst on stand-by. All employees were paid an annual allowance to cover stand-by shifts but Mr Matzak claimed he had not been appropriately paid for this stand-by time.

The CJEU considered whether stand-by time was working time and decided that when a workers was required to be physically present at a location determined by the employer, even if that place was their own home, and to be available to work at a moment’s notice, making it impossible for the worker to choose where to be located, then this would be considered to be within their normal work duties. In this case, the stand-by time would therefore be classed as working time.

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