Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre has expressed alarm over potential implications of a new European court ruling on workers' hours. The judgment published by the European Court of Justice rules that travelling time to and from jobs must be counted as part of the working day for employees who do not have a regular fixed place of work.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative Employment spokesman in the European Parliament, said: "This should ring alarm bells. The way travel-to-work time is dealt with should be a matter purely between employer and employee.
"Potentially this could add significantly to the costs of businesses and interfere with long-established business practices. It could hit smaller firms particularly and that would be bad for growth and bad for jobs."
The ruling relates to a case brought under the controversial Working Time Directive. Two security-equipment engineers were appealing over the way their working day was calculated. They insisted it should include time spent driving to the first job of the day and home from the last – and the court ruling backed them.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "Circumstances affecting journeys to work vary greatly from firm to firm. Businesses, employers and employees, should be left to come up with the arrangement that suits them best.
"I fear this could be a particular problem for sectors such as building, sales and repair work, where a high proportion of employees do not work in an office or factory. We do not need a straightjacket law imposed from Europe. That just shackles employers and workers alike and puts a dead hand on job-creation and growth."