The Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that time spent on call (but not working) away from the workplace can in certain circumstances constitute working time.
The case involved two ambulance paramedics who were required at times to cover nights on call for an ambulance station which was not their base station. When on call, the paramedics were required to stay at accommodation of their choice within a three mile radius of the ambulance station. During that time they were not permitted to take the ambulance outside a three mile radius of the ambulance station without obtaining approval.
The question before the EAT was whether or not the time spent on call in these circumstances amounted to working time. The EAT held that the central question was whether the employees were required to be present at a place determined by their employer. The EAT considered that the employees had to be where they were, within narrow limits, and that they could not be at home. It was the EAT’s judgment that under these circumstances the paramedics could not enjoy the quality of rest which they were entitled to receive under the Working Time Regulations. Accordingly, the EAT held that time spent on call in these circumstances constituted working time.
You can read the case here.
Read our expert comments on this case here.