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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.