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Law for Business

Knowhow - guidance - precedents

Loch Employment Law , 18 AUG 2014

‘On call and working’?

Pam Loch

Managing Partner


‘On call and working’?
Workers on call do not need to be at the workplace to be working according to a recent Scottish EAT case, Truslove and another v Scottish Ambulance Service. This case considered whether time spent by ambulance paramedics on call, where they are contracted to be away from home, counted as working time for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998.

The paramedics were obliged to stay at accommodation of their choice when covering nights on call. The accommodation had to be within a three mile radius of the ambulance station. While there was no requirement for them to wear a uniform the paramedics were obliged to respond to calls within three minutes.The paramedics claimed that the time spent on call counted as working time and so they were entitled to a rest period in accordance with the Working Time Regulations.

The EAT reversed the Tribunal’s decision stating that the central question was whether the employees were required to remain in a place determined by the employer.

The EAT concluded that the time spent by the paramedics when they were required to be away from home and confined to a particular radius in order to respond within a target time of three minutes, could not be said to be their own time.They were therefore working and were not at rest or at liberty to enjoy the quality of rest they were entitled to under the Working Time Regulations.

This decision widens the scope to enable workers to claim it is working time even when they are not required to be in the workplace when on call. In this case the paramedics were not completely free to choose where they could stay as they were limited to a specific area and a specific response time.

It is important therefore that employers consider their obligations to provide rest breaks to on-call workers who are not required to be at the employer’s premises but confined by certain other restrictions.
Loch Employment Law
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