Working Time Regulations
In this case of Truslove & Anor v Scottish Ambulance, the Claimants were ambulance paramedics who sometimes were required to be on call at night, away from their home base station. They were required to stay at accommodation of their choice within a 3 mile radius of the main ambulance station and had to meet a 3 minute response target.
The issue for the tribunal was whether time spent on call in this way was “working time” such that the employees needed a rest break during it and daily rest after it. The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the question is whether the individual is obliged to be present and remain available at the place determined by the employer. If so, that is work and not rest, even if they are not doing anything. The time is not really their own. So, here, the time spent on-call was working time because the employee had to be in a certain location and was not free to enjoy ‘time-off’. The employees were therefore entitled to a separate rest break during this time to meet the requirement of the Working Time Directive.
Any employers therefore who require employees to be in a set location or to comply with set requirements whilst “on-call” must ensure they afford breaks to their employees during this time and rest periods after it.