Travel time is working time. The Supreme Court in line with the EFTA Court

The Supreme Court of Norway concluded in judgment HR-2018-1036-A of 4 June 2018 that time spent on travel ordered by the employer is working time. The conclusion is in accordance with the advisory opinion from the EFTA Court in case E-19/16, ending a four-year legal battle on whether time spent on travel ordered by the employer is working time or not. The judgement will have broad impact on the Norwegian labour market, raising the level of protection for employees.

The court clearly states that in order to conclude on whether a time period is “working time” or “rest period” the legal test consists of an evaluation of whether the three criteria stated in the definition of working time in the directive are met. If so, the timeframe must be considered working time. Furthermore, the court concludes in accordance with the opinion from the EFTA Court that travel ordered by the employer meet the three criteria, thus should be considered working time. The other duties performed by the policeman in the disputed timeframes were not necessary for the conclusion, thus making the judgement relevant to all employers with employees that are ordered to travel by their employer.

The court also considered what level of compensation regulated in the collective agreement the employee was entitled to. The court concluded, on basis of the duties performed by the policeman, that he was entitled to compensation for overtime for one of the disputed timeframes. The other timeframes had been correctly compensated with a lesser compensation for travel.

Both the Working Time Directive and the Norwegian Working Environment Act are flexible instruments, making it possible to adapt working time regulations to company needs. The judgement may lead to more agreements on working time on company level and possibly new regulations in collective agreements in order to secure the level of flexibility needed.

Merete Furesund represented the policeman and Tore Lerheim represented the Policeman Association in the Supreme Court. If any questions, please contact them at furesund@homble-olsby.no or lerheim@homble-olsby.no.

Please find the judgment here

Carina Strøm / 04.06.18

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