How employees get to work can have an enormous impact on their job satisfaction and work/life balance, making it vital for businesses to create policies and procedures and ensure staff understand their rights. 

Did you know that some car insurance providers do not provide cover for journeys during hours of work? Therefore, if you are involved in an accident during the day, you may have to cough up for the costs yourself.

Rights around travelling to work are usually outlined in your contract, but it remains an area where many employees are unaware of the potentially huge risks.

Here, we answer some of the key questions that employees may have about travel at work.

Does travelling to the office count as working time?

For workers travelling to a non-fixed workplace, any time spent travelling should be categorised as working time. This is due to a 2015 European Court of Justice (ECJ) case, where it was argued that, since the place of work varies according to customer appointments, the required travel time cannot be regarded as a period of rest. The decision had ramifications on the UK, as it now must adapt the Working Time Regulations 1998 with the EU Working Time Directive to ensure they are consistent with the decision.

However, for those travelling to one or several fixed locations, travel to the workplace remains part of the working day. Employees may not be aware of this, meaning it is important this is outlined in company documents. Some businesses may decide to pay for travel, but this is entirely their choice.

Any journeys outside of regular working hours could also entitle staff to pay, though the exact terms of this should be stipulated in their contracts. If you travel regularly during working hours and are unsure if you have cover, make sure you speak to both your employer and insurer for clarification.

Which policies should companies introduce to protect workers?

For staff to know their rights when it comes to insurance, companies should put in place clear guidelines and rules to reduce the chance of an accident happening in or around the workplace.

For trips away from the office, companies should introduce risk assessments, which consider all the potential hazards for travellers. These will vary massively depending on the length of journey, people involved and the destination.

For example, employees with health conditions may need extra support to reach a destination, or it may be the case that the location being visited is facing transport disruption. All these considerations should be made before a trip is finalised.

Generally, companies should check that all vehicles driven to work are properly insured and regularly checked for any issues. Policies should also cover issues such as driving under the influence and using mobile phones at the wheel.

How can companies do more to improve the wellbeing of employees driving to work?

As well as checking that all vehicles are insured and in a road-worthy condition,employers can play a key role in making work travel easier and more enjoyable for staff.

Health insurance and free eye tests can make a big difference when it comes to ensuring staff are healthy, productive and happy. Managers should also have an open dialogue with staff about any issues they are having, as these can be exacerbated by spending too much time travelling. Even small changes such as allowing employees to start and finish earlier or later can make travel significantly easier and boost productivity.

Another way of improving wellbeing is to create a car-share scheme, where employees can benefit from pre-booked car park spaces or other perks if they bring other members of staff to the office with them. This can reduce the driving time for workers and allow them to share fuel costs.

What should be your next steps?

If you travel to work and are unsure over how the laws will apply to you, arrange a meeting with a member of your company’s HR department. They will be able to clarify the regulations in your workplace and answer any questions you may have.

As well as this, make sure you can get in touch with your insurer to check if you are covered from driving during work hours. A little effort now could make a big difference if you’re involved in any kind of accident in the future.