Is travel time working time?

Ascertaining whether travel time is classified as working time is a tricky area, and the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 differ from the Working Time Regulations 1998.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) recently considered whether workers are entitled to pay for travel from home to an assignment when calculating the National Minimum Wage (NMW).


The Appellant employed workers on zero-hours contracts within the poultry industry. The workers were required to travel on minibuses provided by the Appellant from their homes to farms around the country, and they weren’t paid for that time.

The HMRC stepped in. It considered that they should be paid NMW for that time.

The Employment Tribunal agreed that travelling time was ‘time work’ under the NMW Regulations, even though it was not actual work.

Employment Appeal Tribunal

On appeal, the EAT found that time spent ‘just’ travelling is not’ time work’ under the Regulations. Whilst travelling from home to work on the minibus, the workers were not considered to be engaged in ‘time work’. The fact that the workers had to use the transport to get to their first assignment did not convert that travel into work.


As an employer, you should be aware that, in some cases, travel to and from work can count as travel time.

In this case, the EAT observed that if the employee must come to the employer’s premises first, subsequent travel is deemed ‘time work’, and NMW is payable. This is unlikely to be the case when travelling home from a fixed place of work. That said, travel time whilst at work will typically count as working time. This would include a scenario where a worker travels from the office to a meeting elsewhere.

The rules can vary depending on the nature of the role. There are different considerations for those who have no fixed place of work and spend time visiting customers, i.e., peripatetic workers. Here, travel between home and work will likely qualify as working time. If in doubt, seek advice.

You should be cautious about time falling under the NMW requirements, particularly when employing zero-hours workers. It would, for example, be inappropriate to require workers to work extra hours without remuneration, which would take them below the NMW on an average calculation.

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