What counts as working time?

Obviously work you do at your workplace under the direction of your employer counts as working time.

Working time does not include:

  • breaks;
  • time off the premises when you have to stay in contact with your employer by phone in case you are needed but are free to decide where you spend that time and do not have to respond so as to provide your services immediately when contacted;
  • training at a college;
  • Commuting time to and from work, (the position is different for “mobile workers” – see below); or
  • time taken to travel to an occasional meeting away from your workplace (e.g. setting off half an hour early to get to the location of an awayday).

Working time does include, for example

  • paid and unpaid overtime required as a part of the role;
  • shift overruns (where a task has to be completed even though your shift has ended, for example a medical emergency);  
  • time when you are required to remain ‘on call’ at your employer's premises, even though you are free to spend that time relaxing or even sleeping;
  • time when you are required to remain ‘on call’ within any geographical location prescribed by your employer, including your own home, so that you are in a position to respond immediately to provide services (for example relief firefighters on standby at home);
  • time spent sleeping overnight, when 'being on the premises' is a requirement of your job, so that you could be disciplined if you left the premises without permission, for example, overnight careworkers or security guards);
  • training at the workplace arranged by the employer;
  • time taken travelling in between appointments (for example, the time spent by a domiciliary care worker travelling between the houses of different service users, providing community-based care services)
  • time spent by union officials during the working day on union duties (for example, attending meetings at the workplace with the employer's agreement to discuss pay negotiations or health and safety concerns); and
  • a working lunch.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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