SMS Usage Summary Report

SMS usage report image of girl holding a mobile credit: unsplash rawpixel

If you’re a regular SMS-user in Watu, you may be in need of a monthly SMS usage report to break down your spend in the previous month.

Now, clients can do this by clicking into ‘billing’, selecting a previous bill, then following the hyperlink next to the SMS usage figures:

image of how to export SMS usage report from Watu

Within the report, managers will find all the details for each SMS including:

  • Sent At
  • Sender Name
  • Job Number
  • Job Name
  • Client Name
  • Message Template
  • SMS Body
  • Search Query
  • Number of Messages
  • Number of SMS*

*these numbers may differ as long messages can use multiple SMS per recipient

Whether for accounting purposes or to keep track of communications, all agencies may find some helpful nuggets of information contained in this report. If you have any questions about it, drop us a line at info@watuapp.com!

New Feature:: Document and Photo Upload to Jobs

Whilst the ‘booked’ job description allows for a full job brief, sometimes there are things to say or images to share which just can’t be written into a box.

And that’s why we’ve created a space for documents and images to be uploaded into jobs.

When clicking into a job, you’ll now see ‘show documents’ in the top right:

At this point, you can now choose documents to upload either by clicking into the grey space, or by dragging and dropping the document or image.


Once you’ve selected your document, you have a few options – do you want the document to remain private to managers? Or visible to all staff, or just the booked ones? And if visible to booked staff, is it only for a specific role?


Simply choose whichever settings are suitable for you, and save the document. Of course, you can choose to upload multiple documents which would only be visible to specific staff members.

Once your documents and images have been uploaded, here’s how it looks for the staff members:

If you have any questions about this feature, drop us a line via ‘tech support’ or info@watuapp.com

New Feature: Adding to portfolio from a job

watu portfolio staff profiles image of picture frames

For the times when you need to present staff to clients, we now have you covered straight from jobs.

Rather than adding staff members individually to portfolios, you can now do so directly from the job. What are the choices?

  • Adding all booked

This option allows for you to select everyone who has already been booked into the job, so rather than creating options for your client, you are presenting them with the team.

  • Adding all applied and shortlisted

When you need to present staff to a client for them to select who to book, adding all applied and shortlisted is your best bet. This will add anyone who has applied or been shortlisted to the job, but will not include anyone who is booked already.

  • Adding everyone linked to the job

Want to present everyone linked to the job, whether booked, applied, or shortlisted? Use this third option to add everyone, ever, into the portfolio.

And here’s how to get started:

First up, build your portfolio template by clicking on ‘portfolios’ and selecting which information you would like to show.

From within your job, hover over the menu button near the top right of the job information to apply the command to the whole job, or hover over the menu within each location to be more specific:

Booked staff in a job in Watu

Select which group of staff members you would like to add to the portfolio:

Adding staff to portfolio from a job in watu

This box will pop up, confirming who you are adding, and allowing you to select which portfolio you will add staff members to:

Selecting a portfolio within watu

Once you’ve added the staff, click back into ‘portfolios’ to check the profiles and add notes, if necessary:

Staff portfolio within Watu

And that’s it – grab the URL, whiz it across to the client and await their feedback. Job done.

New Payroll Changes

Photo by Freddie Collins on Unsplash

Payroll has been undergoing a makeover recently and we’re really excited to release it shortly, in its simplified glory. Watu clients are soon to see two major changes to running payroll: one condensed pay export file and faster self-employed processing

Release date: September 15th 2017

One condensed payroll

Prior to the changes, Watu had three separate tabs for employee payment, expenses payment, and self-employed invoice batch payment:

image of watu payroll options

Managers could choose whether to run one, or all three, but they had to be exported separately.

We’ve taken this process and boiled it down to one export:

image of new watu payroll

Managers can still opt for running just one – or two – of the options, or they can opt for them all. This new toggle set up allows for a variety of combinations – wages exports for both employees and self-employed, just expenses exports, just employees, and so on. But best of all, it allows for all payment exports for all types of staff, into one document.

The exported document itself will remain the same apart from one additional column where it will state whether staff are self-employed or employees.

Bonus: For those of you using Paycircle this is great news – integrations will be even easier now so you can run payroll in a snap!

Faster self-employed processing

Another change applicable to those agencies with self-employed staff will be music to your ears.

Rather than the drawn out process of signing off shifts, clicking ‘new invoice received’, matching totals to shifts and adding an invoice date and number, then running an invoice batch…here is the new process:

sign off the shifts -> click into payroll and export the data

In other words, payroll processing for self-employed will now behave exactly as it does for employees. We listened to your feedback that the workflow had too many steps, and that oftentimes building the invoice in Watu was irrelevant, so this new process is the most efficient one whilst still keeping Watu payments factual, accurate and reliable.

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

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