Feature Proposal: Faster, easier payroll

Payroll is a fantastic feature of Watu, allowing agencies to have the confidence they are always paying staff, and never double-paying shifts, but we realise it’s a bit disjointed at the moment.

Currently, agencies do the following:

  • Run exports for PAYE staff wages
  • Run exports for PAYE staff expenses
  • Log invoices for Self-employed staff
  • Export payroll batches for Self-employed staff

The exports created contain valuable data but the process to export them needed some revisiting, so we have a new proposal: all the exports, in one sheet, and no more logging self-employed invoices.

How will it look?

Sometimes features are best explained with images. Here is how new payroll could look:

image of payroll for watu staff
Proposed payroll change

So what would change?

  • Self-employed staff: You would no longer have to mark each invoice received. Instead, signing off would confirm the wages and you would be able to run the export immediately based on the date of the shifts
  • One export, not 3: You would be able to run the export for PAYE wages, PAYE expenses, and Self-employed payments all at the same time into one document (maintaining the relevant columns for each)
  • Toggles: The ability to toggle before exporting, choosing between exporting expenses, PAYE wages, or self-employed payments – or all three

Let us know what you think:

How we rebuild this feature will depend on your feedback, so let us know! Is this a time-saving move forward for your agency? Or is there a change that will leave you short of data? Let us know by emailing us at info@watuapp.com and sharing your thoughts.

Autofill Job Locations

The other day, Elizabeth from Tidy Models wrote to us and asked why Watu’s autofill was only offering her one address option. A problem that we would have loved to solve, if we actually offered autofill in the first place.

It was a fantastic idea and I started to add it to the to-do list…but hold on, hello brilliance! If browsers are already offering this for us, why double the work?


Here’s how to add autofill options via Chrome:*

(*Why Chrome? Because it’s our most compatible browser.)

  1. Click the menu button in Chrome near the upper right corner and select ‘Settings’
  2. Click on ‘Advanced Settings’
  3. Scroll down to ‘Password and Forms’ and select ‘Manage Autofill Settings’

4. Select ‘Add new street address’

5. Add in your frequently used addresses then hit ok

6. Next time you’re building a job in Watu, start to enter the address and watch autofill pop up


My extra tip? Make sure that little red pin pops up — and in the right location — as this confirms the job has been mapped correctly, and can be made public.

Software magic, brought to you by W̶a̶t̶u̶ Chrome

Feature Release: Holiday Pay | How to opt in

We’re so pleased to be presenting to you the much anticipated holiday pay feature for UK clients! It’s been in the making for some time and offers the opportunity to bring your agency in line with HMRC requirements.

In case you would like a refresher, here is the basis behind creating the feature.

Whether or not you plan to opt-in, there are changes that will affect all UK accounts so please read through to the end.


Release Date: 12th February (Sunday)
What’s happening: You may opt-in to holiday pay

The Holiday Pay feature:

  • The main goal of adding this feature is to display the difference at the time of booking between wage and holiday pay. This is simple enough – in theory – but it has a few knock-on effects including:
    When staffers see a new job following your opt-in, they will not only see the wage entered by you. Instead, they will see it split into “base pay” and “holiday pay”
  • The split will be calculated automatically by the software and will take holiday pay from the total you want to pay. Example: if you want to pay the staff member £100 total for the day, you will still enter £100 from which the software will calculate the percentage of holiday pay. Therefore, it will display the wage as less than £100 + holiday pay to the staff member
  • Subsistence, bonus and taxable adjustments will be included as wage. Holiday pay will be calculated from this wage total.
  • Once you opt-in and the feature is live, every job you create after that will have Holiday Pay. New shifts added to existing jobs will not, however. This is only for new jobs created after Holiday Pay is turned on for you.
  • There are changes to the payroll export for those who opt-in and those who opt-out. Please read these changes or send them on to your accountant

What’s next?

If you would like holiday pay activated in your account, please email info@watuapp.com to confirm. If you do not want this feature to go live, you don’t need to take any action as we will assume you don’t want it. You may opt-in at any point further down the road.



A bonus update…

We made one more small change which will be released on Sunday 12th along with Holiday Pay. When sending booking emails, if the shifts have different times and breaks, there will not be a summary at the top of the email. Instead, each shift will be listed individually for better clarity.


As always, I welcome your questions and comments so please do comment or get in touch via info@watuapp.com if you would like to discuss the feature.

Updated HMRC Ruling: Promo staff must be PAYE

Promotional model Jennifer Su: https://flic.kr/p/aCmeJd

It has long been a grey area as to whether promotional staff should be self-employed or on PAYE. Are they employees or do they set their own schedules? Do you determine their work day, or do they do that on their own? Is their place of work determined by you, or by them?

A lot of these answers depend on a campaign itself, rather than being a sweeping ‘you’ or ‘them’, and this has given some freedom for agencies to choose whether to hire staff as self-employed, or employees.

However, just recently, HMRC has clarified these rules within the employment manual and refer specifically to brand ambassadors and similarly related roles.

First they tackle the fact that many promotional staff work as actors, singers or models, by explaining that these roles are exempt:

HMRC actors models singers except from PAYE

Having clarified that models, singers and actors working as models, singers and actors, do not have to be paid under PAYE, they then tackle the subject of models, singers, and actors working as promotional staff:

Promotional staff must be paid under PAYE

As above, HMRC specifically state that promo staff undertaking activities such as “carrying out demonstrations”, “keeping supermarket shelves stocked”, and “sales promotion on manufacturers’ stands…” is “therefore within the legislation”.

If you’re already using Watu as your software provider, making this switch is easy.

Firstly, within general>settings, you will see options relating to how you would like to allow your field staff to register with you:

Payroll settings watu

Simply keep only the option for “staffers to sign up as Employees” ticked, and this will be the only option moving forward for registering staff.

It’s worth noting that managers can always override this setting, so if you have a staff member who must be registered as self-employed, it’s possible for a manager to select this on behalf of the staff member.

And what about those staff who have been self-employed, but now need to switch to PAYE?

Watu can help out with this, as our developers can change some system settings to ‘sweep’ your account so-to-speak, and change everyone to PAYE. As these staff members wouldn’t have their payroll details entered already, it will set all these recently switched staffers to “payroll incomplete”, meaning they can’t be paid yet.

But again, there’s a solution for this! Within ‘payroll’ there is a section called ‘incomplete payroll’, and clicking there will bring you to this page:

incomplete payroll watu

See that little ‘request payroll data’ button? Click there, and that will send an email to everyone who needs to enter their details in order to be paid. It takes care of the guess work and manual typing, so all you have to do is click a button.

Bonus: A helpful – and little known – tip for those agencies using PAYE

Our system asks for the payroll data that is also required by HMRC. We stick to their mandatory/non-mandatory questions so that the software is aligned with government regulations, but sometimes you may find that the system asks for something which you just don’t need.

If you find that a staff member is marked as incomplete but you’d like to pay them anyway, here’s how to do a system override:

  1. Click into the staff member’s profile
  2. Click the menu (three lines) in the upper right corner
  3. Click ‘payroll’
  4. Click ‘edit’
  5. Click ‘Admin Information’
  6. Tick the little box stating ‘payroll data complete’

mark payroll data as complete in watu

We know that going through a payroll switch and all of its consequences can be daunting, and we would like to be here to help as much as possible. Whilst we cannot offer accounting or legal advice, we would be happy to offer suggestions and help you along the way as you make the switch.

When you’re ready to ask a question or get started, just click the ‘tech support’ button to reach out to the team.

Could sharing be caring in promotional staffing too?

Photo by Alan Levine: https://flic.kr/p/dtBSgg

The promotional staffing industry has a big elephant in the room and it’s trumpeting loud and clear, but we’re not really listening. Or maybe, we’re even trying to muffle it. Every agency says it has the best staff and indeed they often do. But these fantastic field staff are not unique to each agency. Rather, especially in a location as small as the UK, the best of the bunch and beyond are often shared between agencies, as staff register with as many agencies as they can find for the maximum number of work offers.

Agencies have historically been quite protective of their staff, with guarded surnames, and on-site poaching very much frowned upon, hoping to hold these brand ambassadors and event managers close and sheltered from the hungry books of other agencies.

From the viewpoint of the field staff, registering with as many agencies as possible makes complete sense. More agencies, more work offers, a higher chance of getting booked. And yet, for the agencies, it creates a challenge of how to pinpoint a unique selling point. If you can offer the same team as another agency, what sets you apart? Of course, your offer encompasses everything from pricing to management skills and established relationships, but often your star factor and what it really boils down to, is your team on the ground.

Maybe the answer is working on staff loyalty, ensuring that your top team come to you first and will prioritise your work. But it’s a tough industry in which to create loyalty, with a lot of competition and people who simply need to fill their diary. Oftentimes, field staff do not have the luxury of picking and choosing when and for whom they will work; if a well-paid job is offered, it will be snapped up and probably rather quickly before the thousands of others send in their job applications.

Or, perhaps, this offers an opportunity for agencies to open up, accept that your books may look like a reflection of another agency’s books and consequentially, you may have a lot to learn from each other. If we consider the fact that your goal as an agency is to provide the best team for a client, we must think about the benefits that could come with sharing.

Primarily, this is instant access to a staff member’s work history which, if known beforehand, can make or break your campaign. If you had industry-wide knowledge to a staff member’s notes and reviews, let’s imagine what that could offer before you hit accept…

  • Client approved/rejected
  • Suspensions from other agencies
  • Great potential to be an EM
  • Whether the person in the profile reflects accurately the person on the ground
  • Any stand-out behaviour, whether positive or negative
  • An overall sense of the person you are welcoming onto your books

Whether trying to gain a better understanding of someone for your books, or for a particular job, the information is already out there. It’s just hidden.

When I type a staff member’s email address into our database to search where they are registered, there it is right in-front of my eyes. John is a fantastic staff member and this client adore him…Jane never showed up to her last 2 jobs and has been removed from the books. But removed from the books of 1 agency. And the others? They are left waiting until she does the same to them, without being forewarned of her potential unreliability.

So how would this affect staff? Well, that really depends on whether they’re a John or a Jane. Stellar feedback and an industry-wide reputation for being a reliable, energetic and professional staff member will bring John more work and consequentially, higher chances of climbing the promo ladder towards Event Management and more. But Jane? Her chances of work would suddenly diminish as agencies become wary of her lack of dedication.

Could this be hurtful to staff who genuinely had problems getting to work that day, or perhaps made a mistake along the way? Yes, it could be. But from my experience, the industry is quite forgiving and we’re often willing to give people another chance based on honest communication, and this poor feedback could be easily overwhelmed by positivity after a few bookings.

The US seems to be heading towards this direction, with white label staffing companies popping up, selling to clients who expect shared staff. Our friends over at Pop Bookings offer agencies their own books, but with some shared access to staff information.

Perhaps, if we were to let our guard down in the UK ever so slightly and begin a conversation between agencies, we could see the benefits too. Managers could have more confidence in the team they’re booking. Recruitment would not be so much of a guessing game with 3-page long questionnaires to complete, or weeks of interviews. You could be filling your books with who you know to be the best, not just who you think to be the best, freeing up your concentration to focus on your unique selling point. And your clients? They would receive the biggest benefit of this change: a guaranteed-to-be-fantastic team on the ground.

Photo credit Alan Levine

Brexit: Are you making history?

Brexit vote for staffing agencies credit: IB times.com

In just two days’ time, we are all being offered the opportunity to determine the future of our homeland. Will we remain joined with the EU, or widen the waters with a political separation in the attempt to go our own way?

The team at Watu have done our reading, trawling through articles representing both sides of the stage, listening to our friends’ comments – as hard as some of them may have been to bear, and imagining how we would like our home to be down the road.

We firmly believe that choosing to remain is the best route, based on a collection of opinions from some of the world’s leading voices. Economists, politicians (at least, the ones we listen to), activists, environmentalists, you name it. These informed voices of reason and our humble views of joining together forces to make the world a better place have led us in this direction, not to mention the benefit it brings to our business and yours.

Why do we write this? Not to convince you to vote our way, but simply to ask you to vote. To give your two cents and make your voice heard, too. The country can only represent its people, if its people speak up when given the stage.

And if you really wanted to shake things up, we encourage agencies to make the most of the thousands of brand ambassadors and event managers on your books and reach out to them too. Many are young, full of energy and points of view, and we’d love to see them put it to paper. Perhaps it’s not conventional to mix work with political views, but oftentimes the world is changed by those who tend not to follow the norm…

 

Photo credit: IB Times

Filtering agency emails

Image of mailboxes to represent filtering agency emails Photo by 白士 李: https://flic.kr/p/mMthm6

The excitement of signing up to a new agency and receiving your first job offer provides for a real buzz. A new team of managers, a different range of clients, and the potential for some awesome gigs coming through into your virtual mailbox appeals to your curiosity and inbound post is read with relish.

Until that email turns into hundreds. Then maybe thousands, as you register with more agencies. And not just that, but you’re hectic at the moment with finals and shifts and social events galore. You want to apply to some shifts, but the amount of incoming mail is overwhelming and not to mention, totally drowning your inbox to the point where personal emails get lost in the subject headers and you decide it’s just not even worth checking the mail. This just isn’t working.

Many staff, at this point, get in touch asking to be taken off the books, preferring to not be registered with an agency at all rather than be bombarded by potentially irrelevant job offers. But there’s another option: filtering your agency emails. Here we have a look at the most popular email servers and how to create filters.

Filtering incoming mail for Gmail

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. In the search box at the top, click the Down arrow Down Arrow.
  3. Enter your search criteria. If you want to check that your search worked correctly, see what emails show up by clicking Search Search.
  4. At the bottom of the search window, click Create filter with this search.
  5. Choose what you’d like the filter to do.
  6. Click Create filter.
  7. When you create a filter to forward messages, only new messages will be affected.

Use a particular message to create a filter

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Check the checkbox next to the email you want.
  3. Click More.
  4. Click Filter messages like these.
  5. Enter your filter criteria.

Filtering incoming mail for Hotmail

  1. Select Options | More options… (or just Options in Windows Live Hotmail classic) from the toolbar.
  2. Follow the Automatically sort e-mail into folders link under Customize your mail.
  3. Click New filter.
  4. Select the desired filtering criterion under Which messages are you looking for?.
  5. Choose the folder to receive all mail matching your criterion under Where do you want to put these messages?.

Filtering incoming mail for Yahoo

  1. Mouse over the Settings icon Image of the Mail Settings icon. | select Settings.
  2. Click Filters
  3. Click Add.
  4. Enter a Filter Name.
  5. Enter the filter criteria.
  6. Select a folder to deliver the affected emails to or select New Folder to create a new one.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Click Save again to return to your emails.

Filtering incoming mail for Outlook

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Manage Rules & Alerts.
  3. In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, on the E-mail Rules tab, click New Rule.
  4. Under Start from a blank rule, click either Check messages when they arrive or Check messages after sending.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Under Step 1: Select condition(s), select the conditions that you want the messages to meet for the rule to apply.
  7. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click an underlined value for any condition that you added, and then specify the value.
  8. Click Next.
  9. Under Step 1: Select action(s), select the action that you want the rule to take when the specified conditions are met.
  10. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click an underlined value for any action that you added, and then specify the value.
  11. Click Next.
  12. Under Step 1: Select exception(s), select any exceptions to the rule, and then click Next.
  13. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click an underlined value for any exception that you added, and then specify the value.
  14. Click Next.
  15. Under Step 1: Specify a name for this rule, enter a name.
  16. Under Step 2: Setup rule options, select the check boxes for the options that you want.
  17. If you want to run this rule on messages that already are in the Inbox, select the Run this rule now on messages already in “Inbox” check box.
  18. By default, the new rule is turned on. To turn off the rule, clear the Turn on this rule check box.
  19. To apply this rule to all email accounts set up in Outlook, select the Create this rule on all accounts check box.
  20. Click Finish.
  21. What filters should you create?

Filtering your inbox by subject

Perhaps you’d like to separate job invites from being shortlisted to a shift, and confirmation requests from decline messages. If so, there are some key words that most agencies using Watu will use.

How to create a Gmail filter in your inbox
Creating a Gmail filter

When a box like the above Gmail option pops up offering you various filters, here’s what to enter:

Job Invites: (Subject) “Would you be interested in”
Being shortlisted to a job: (Subject) “Status: SHORTLISTED”
Confirming a job you’ve been booked to: (Subject) “Status: SUCCESSFUL”
Your application to a job was declined: (Subject) “Status: UNSUCCESSFUL”

Extra: From: This is a bit trickier, as each manager has an individual email address. If you opt to use this filter, note that it will be from an email address with ‘watu’ in it, and not the manager’s direct email address. (hint: also add this inbound email address to your contacts, to avoid spam!)

So rather than choosing between leaving the agency for good or having to deal with 452 new job offers every day (which technically sounds good but, in practice, stinks), have a go at setting up filters. That way when you decide you’re ready to read through what’s available and get stuck into some work admin, you can opt to dive in.

 

Photo by 白士 李

Viewing your promotional campaigns in Google Maps

Photo by Nicolas Raymond: https://flic.kr/p/gfJWZC promotional staffing mapping with google maps

We all look at data and arrange it differently in our minds on order to best understand it. Some of us may squeal at spreadsheets whilst others prefer flowcharts, and yet the ‘visual learner’ group  wants things presented as an image. It’s why there are so many organisational apps out there – what works for one person, one team, or one company may be totally irrelevant to the workflow of another.

Watu also provides various ways to view jobs, for example in the job schedule page or downloaded to CSV for those spreadsheet nerds, but what about the visual group?

Here’s a solution for you guys: creating a promotional campaigns map in Google Maps

How does it work?

Within Google Maps, once logged in, you can choose to create and save a map based on your data. This data can, of course, be imported, meaning you can either whip together a spreadsheet of what you want to visualise, or you can choose to download straight from Watu. The map then saves pins on your locations with all the columnised data stored within each pin.

If you’re going ‘huh..?’ – don’t worry, this blog piece is for visual learners. So let’s make it so.

Step 1: Create the document

Once you’ve built your job in Watu, click ‘Download Job Schedule’

Alternatively, you can choose at this point to build your own spreadsheet in Google Drive or another document. If doing so, just place the column headers in the first row so that Maps can read the titles correctly.

Creating a google map of a promotional campaign

Step 2: Filter your document

Filter to what you need by selecting repetitive columns and deleting them.

In this case, I’ve chosen to narrow down the rows to just one line per location, rather than having a pinpoint for each time the location appears.

Creating a google map of a promotional campaign

Step 3: Go to Google maps

Create your map by going to Google Maps then clicking on the menu and selecting ‘My Maps’. Note that you’ll have to be logged into Google in order to create your own map.

Creating a google map of a promotional campaign

Step 4: Create your map

Click ‘create’ at the bottom of the menu

Creating a map of promotional campaigns

Step 5: Import your data

Import your map by selecting the layer and clicking ‘import’. Select your document and then click ‘location’ (or however you named the address column) to have the pins reflect the addresses of your campaign.

Creating a map of promotional campaigns

Your customised promotional campaign map:

There you have it, your final results. In this case, a basic map with just a few job points, but with the potential for many more.

Creating a map of promotional campaigns

The pins are instantly placed on the locations specified in the spreadsheet. Clicking on a pin will display more detail:

Creating a map of promotional campaigns

Once you’re at this point, the map is yours to explore and add to like, for example, adding additional layers if you have other campaigns you’d like to add in.

Happy mapping!

Photo by Nicolas Raymond

Making the switch from brand ambassador to campaign manager

Photo by Szabolcs: photo of typewriter to symbolise switching from brand ambassador to manager photo of typewriter to symbolise switching from brand ambassador to manager

Whilst there are some who are perfectly content in their current roles, there will always be others who wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. Or maybe we should say, there some folk thinking of leaving the grassy fields of experiential staffing behind for the cosy interiors of the management office.

Perhaps you’ve seen the managers swinging by whilst you were out and about (snapping a few photos Joel and Lia style!) or when you went for your interview the offices held a certain pull. Maybe, it’s just time for a bit more routine in your life and a more comfortably predictable day.

Whatever the reason, switching from working your 9-5 in the field to booking them from the office is a pretty common path in the promo world. But if you’re thinking about it, what exactly should you be thinking about?

Bye-bye spontaneity, hello routine

Events will have you working nationwide with a new crew, new brand, and new brief every few days. It’s go-go-go with fresh sights, smells, sounds, and faces galore. The office, on the contrary, will bring you familiar sights, a regular commute and the same colleagues day in and day out.

Whether that sounds like a nightmare or a chance to introduce some structure into your life, is completely personal to you. Will you miss the variety? Or appreciate the chance to automate some parts of your life? Do you get bored easily? Or prefer the familiar, settling quickly into your comfort zone?

More accountability

Brand ambassadors play possibly the most crucial role in a campaign. Months of work stemming from the brand, to the marketing agency, to the staffing agency and many others in between all come together in the moment that you step on board. Your message delivery, positive interactions and great big smile can make or break a campaign.

But whilst you may be rated by the agency on your performance with them, when it comes to whether or not the promo was pulled off successfully, it’s the campaign manager who bears accountability.

So if you switch from field to office, it’s worth bearing in mind: drop outs, an unhelpful staff member or uncooperative team, lateness and all those niggly negatives that can tarnish a campaign are your responsibility. Unlike praise, which is often credited to and swiftly passed on to the staff on the ground, negative feedback often makes its final stop in the staffing agency office where the bookers must bear the brunt.

Events don’t close

Do you get a buzz out of working late nights and weekends? Does anyone? Because that’s a fact you’ll have to consider thanks to the nature of the industry. Events don’t close and in fact, they tend to pick up in the evenings and on the weekends when the crowds are out and about.

And if events are live, you’ll have to be on call. Many agencies do allocate one manager per weekend to take care of everything running, but if you’re heading up a campaign, you’re the one with the inside knowledge and may have to step in to help out.

Saying that, this can be a plus if you’re interested in getting involved beyond the 9-5. Have you ever finished a campaign wondering if it was successful, if the social media hashtags gathered attention and final sales increased? Or you built up a great working relationship with the client on-site and thought it might be cool to nurture a budding network? That curiosity and drive is what will help you to make the switch.

A tighter team

So promo work might bring a lot of socialisation, but it also includes a lot of social turnover. The guys you did the chicken bites promo with may have been super cool, but you may also never work with them again. Bummer.

As a team in the office though, you’ll be sitting there together day in and day out. Gritting your teeth through the tough days of last-minute client requests, laughing along with the characters surrounding you, and partying till the sun comes out before heading straight back to the office (guilty…).

Not to mention, companies love a little team bonding and you can count on activities away from the office, Christmas parties, birthday cakes and mini-celebrations all year long.

You can’t work the really awesome event

Sometimes, when I was a campaign manager, a ridiculously cool gig would come through. Driving around beautiful cars, getting all dolled up for a make-up brand, giving away freebies at a festival (because everyone knows freebies and festivals are the best), or even a particularly well-paid event. As I took down the details from the client all I could think was “me me me me!” but, clearly, that wasn’t going to happen. It wouldn’t be professional, it wouldn’t be fair, and to be honest, I probably wouldn’t be the best person for that role. And so instead, they went to the fantastic staff on the books who totally rocked the jobs.

Some agencies do encourage their office staff to get involved in some campaigns – it helps remind them of the logistics, the experience, the cold and wet days spent working outside, the feeling of rejection when no one wants a flyer, and the good bits too – but what you get booked on is luck of the draw and no, you won’t make double wage that day!

So what do you think, how does it sound? If you’ve considered all the above and think it sounds up your alley, give it a go and let us know!

Photo by Szabolc

Should you be paying staff for their travel time?

Should travel time be paid for staff commuting image Photo by Cliff: https://flic.kr/p/6h6Zu8

Note: This is applicable for UK agencies only and is not legal advice

As we’ve discovered with issues like working hours per week and holiday pay, running an agency managing temporary staff can be like wading through a swamp. The information available is thick and murky, and you’re stuck in the middle of it. Not only do agencies have to abide by UK laws, but there are EU regulations to bear in mind as well – as long as, of course, Brexit doesn’t actually happen.

Just last week, an agency sent through an article which was of high concern: MiHomecare was facing a group action lawsuit and is having to possibly cough up hundreds of thousands of pounds for staff who had technically been paid under the minimum wage.

Before we get too into the thick of things let me just say – I love when agencies voice their concerns, send us articles, and discuss the industry with Watu. It’s awesome to hear from you and it helps to keep us in the loop of what needs working on. So, kudos to the agency who sent through this article!

What was the case?

This case currently only applies to care workers who must travel in between their shifts, spending sometimes an hour either driving down small roads, or waiting outside homes until their elderly patients are ready to see them. They were not compensated for this time and as a result, were working long hours without balanced pay.

The court, and now HMRC, have decided that this lack of compensation qualifies the carers as potentially working for less than minimum wage, hence why they can now claim these fees back and why HMRC is in the midst of investigating more than 100 other home care suppliers and their working practices.

This decision could also affect many other industries including IT workers, nurses, engineers and technicians with many of them supporting this case and hoping to better their own circumstances which involve many hours of travel per day.

But that’s just looking at travel in between shifts…

Most promotional agency staff commute to their place of work, fulfil their shift, then commute home again. So does the above apply? Most likely not, if this is how your staff are working.

And most agencies, if the staff are having to travel for the campaign – like in guerilla marketing – continue to pay the staff member continuously during the shift, rather than discounting the time spent hopping from one place to another.

But what about travel to and from work?

Here’s where it starts to get swampy. The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled late last year that “those with no fixed place of work spend travelling between home and their first and last places of work each day counts as ‘working time’“.

So, said simply, when your temporary staff are going to and from their shifts/home, this does count as work. What is important to note, however, is that this has effect on the Working Time Directive which only has ruling over working hours and not working pay.

In fact, the ruling of the case from last year specifically stated that the “CJEU expressly stated in its decision that it is for national legislation to determine whether or not this travelling time – or, indeed, any other category of working time – is paid or unpaid”.

So should you be paying staff for their travel time?

Totally separate from the Working Time Directive, minimum wage is governed by the National Minimum Wage Act.

They have stated that time spent travelling to and from a shift is not subject to minimum wage, consequentially meaning that although it’s working time, you do not necessarily have to pay for it.

What’s important to consider

Based on the above, it then seems like what’s important to consider are the hours and not necessarily the pay. So when viewing the issue from this angle, agencies should be bearing in mind the European Union’s Working Time Directive. For example, it would be worth reviewing:

  • If the staff member has not opted out of the 48 hour working week initiative, does this mean they’re then working over the 48 hours?
  • Does this affect how much break time staff can have during the day?
  • Does it affect the number of consecutive hours worked?
  • Must holiday pay reflect this new total of hours worked?
  • Are you staff working night shifts? There are extra rules protecting staff from being overworked throughout the night.
  • Do your terms of engagement comply with the ruling?

It seems like, for now, as long as your agency is complying with the working hours regulations, then you’re following the rules and will make it through that swamp unscathed. But with national and EU laws changing and evolving to ensure staff are treated fairly and compensated correctly for their time, it’s worth keeping an eye out on these topics.

We would always recommend discussing these legal issues over with your HR department or employment lawyer to ensure you’re in line with what’s being required. And an easy way to stay in tune with what’s happening? Set up a Google alert with keywords such as “working time directive”, “national minimum wage”, “travel time compensation”, and so on. It’s not a completely reliable way to catch the latest laws, but it could go a long way in alerting you as to what’s happening, what’s being discussed, and what’s being determined by the courts.

Did you already know this about travelling time? Or will you now be reviewing your staff schedules? I’d love to hear whether you’re already a step ahead or will be tackling this issue now!

Photo by Cliff