GDPR: Gaining Consent from Staff Members

GDPR staffing agency compliance

In the run up to the deadline for GDPR compliance, we’ve seen a flurry of activity to ensure both agencies and Watu are ticking all GDPR requirements. In a previous article, we explain our compatibility so that clients can rest assured.

But beyond safely stored data, agencies are also having to tackle the tick boxes which apply when contacting people via their personal email address. The big question of the moment: how do I gain consent from staff members to continue to hold their data and send them communications?

Some agencies have suggested emailing staff to receive replies of confirmation, but we would like to propose a solution which will reduce back and forth communication, and keep answers tracked within the database.

Profile Template Change

When staff members are registering or editing their profile, they are inside of the ‘profile template‘. This template is very flexible as you may already know, and it’s a powerful tool to organise, communicate with, and manage staff.

The first step would be for the Watu team to add a statement similar to the following which would sit at the top of the page:

Please select ‘yes’ below to confirm that you would like to be registered with <agency_name>, and therefore receive communications including job offers during this time. 

This would then be followed by an answer selection that is mandatory to answer:

Yes or No

We can entitle this section of the profile template “Data compliance“.

How does this affect staff?

For registering staff, they will come across this statement as the first question when applying, and would naturally tick ‘yes’.

For existing staff, this will now sit as a question within their profile template. They must enter their profile and click ‘edit’ to be able to answer the question.

How to reach out to existing staff?

You may request the above change by emailing tech support from your account. Once it’s in place, we suggest;

  1. Emailing your database (staffers -> active -> message and the same for pending) stating that you have added a mandatory question, for which they must answer yes to remain on your books
  2. After however many weeks and reminders as you feel comfortable with, you may do a search in the system for “Data compliance: No”
  3. This will turn up the results for everyone who has answered “No”
  4. You may choose to suspend these people and/or delete their data

The above search will apply to anyone new who has registered as well as existing staff members. We will pre-set all answers to be ‘no’ for existing staff, so that it’s an opt-in request; in other words, staff must edit their profiles to select ‘yes’ so that they do not leave the answer as ‘no’.

Data deletion

Whether you delete none, some or all of the data of suspended/imported/cancelled/declined profiles is up to your agency and we cannot advise on this.

Deletions may be completed manually, or you are welcome to reach out to us to ask for a quote. Please send through the following information;

  • who the data should be wiped for (which categories – suspended, cancelled, declined, imported etc)
  • what data should be wiped (names, email, phone number, all answers, photos, payroll, etc)

Looking forward

In the future, the question will remain on the database and a staff member may decide to select ‘no’ at any time. We would recommend to run a search each month or at whatever interval suits you best, looking for those staff who have selected ‘No’. Again, at that point, you may choose to suspend and/or delete their data.

If you are ready to implement the above or have any questions, do reach out to us via tech support. The wording is flexible and the above is a suggestion, so it can be adjusted as needed.

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

Newsflash: Watu system updates

Image of tools from Unsplash to represent Watu's features

We’re constantly working on giving you more, and better, tools within Watu. As a front-end user of Watu, you may sometimes be wondering what we’re working on behind the scenes, so in case this is you, here is a list of recent releases which are visible to to clients*;

*this means you will be able to see the difference. There is plenty that goes on in the background which would only make sense to developers 🙂

Booking Emails are Clearer

This is the latest release and one which many of you have been asking for! Previously, ‘successful booking’ emails listed the shifts with details at the top of the email, followed by exceptions.

This was confusing. For everybody.

Image of booking confirmation email from Watu to temporary staffer

Now, as seen above, it lists each shift with its details, unless all the shifts are exactly the same in which case it lists the detailed information just once.

Introducing Canadian Payroll

For our lovely and loyal Canadian clients, we released a detailed payroll data capture section integrated into Watu, much like we have for the UK, US and Australia. This means that Canadian accounts will now be able to ask staff for their bank account payment details, SIN numbers, and everything else necessary to be able to pay staff.

Image of bank detail capture in Watu for Canada

And when payroll is being exported, all this information will automatically populate the spreadsheet. Hello, simple payday.

Fixing a calendar glitch

When staff were looking at the calendar to pick a date – like their birthday – the white text would show up against a white background. Oops.

Image of Watu's calendar feature

This has happily been corrected!

Easier profile cancellation for staff

Whilst the system previously had many blocks in place for staff cancelling their profiles with an agency, we eased some of the restrictions so that staff can now cancel even if they had been shortlisted for a job – as long as the job is in the past.

This should mean fewer emails to managers asking to be suspended.

Portfolio background image

Previously, the portfolio background had two black sections on either side to contain the image. We realised that this wasn’t ideal for some agency images, so the image now covers the entire background.

It’s ever-so-slightly sleeker and a slight adjustment to a feature we’re excited to be renovating in the future.

The Watu Pipeline: Payroll in the spotlight

image of dollar sign to represent watu's payroll feature pipeline

Whilst quarter one brought us the release of holiday pay, an upgraded calendar, and other tweaks and improvements throughout the software, Watu’s quarter two plans are promising to be bigger and bolder. So what’s in the works for the upcoming quarter? A whole lot of payroll pizzazz.

Canadian Payroll

Canadian clients, we hear you loud and clear! We’ll soon be offering you, our maple leaf-waving friends, a customised payroll section for each staff member, meaning you can collect their bank details and tax information from directly within the system. Which takes us to the next feature updates…

Condensed Payroll

Condensed meetings, condensed milk, condensed…payroll? Well what with meetings and milk being so good, we’re confident condensed payroll will join the club.

Right now, when you run payroll, you run it separately for employees, for self-employed staff, and for employee expenses. Three separate documents, which we will be merging into one.

You will be able to select if you want to pay one, two, or all three of the categories and run the export in one go, creating a master spreadsheet of everyone who needs to be paid for the dates selected.

Faster self-employed payroll

When the ‘new invoice received’ section was built, it was created so that managers could check the data of invoices received against the shifts due to be paid. We thought we were helping with accuracy, but it turns out, we were creating inefficiency instead.

So now, once a shift has been signed off for a self-employed staff member, that data will go straight to payroll just like employees. Rather than the following steps:

  1. Sign off the shift/s
  2. Click new invoice received
  3. Enter the invoice number
  4. Select the dates
  5. Enter the total
  6. Select the shifts
  7. Save
  8. Run an invoice batch

You will instead do this:

  1. Sign off the shifts
  2. Select the dates in payroll
  3. Export the data

Turning inefficiency to efficiency and time-saving at its finest.

We would love to hear your thoughts on our upcoming plans so if you have questions, confusion or extreme joy relating to the above, leave a comment or drop us a line at info@watuapp.com

Connecting Watu to a Questionnaire via Typeform

Following a shift, many agencies are keen to collect data from their staff in the field. What was the public reaction, how many samples were handed out, who showed interest…how many tweets were tweeted!? A questionnaire provides a natural route to gather this data and is a feature that has been mentioned by a few clients who already use Watu.

At the moment, it’s not a feature we offer and whilst it is a task we are considering tackling, we really doubt that we can build it better than the experts. Especially Typeform, who create “Free and Beautifully Human Online Forms.”

How does it work?

Building a typeform is ridiculously easy. It offer very straightforward report-building software which you can use from the get-go. No need to read instructions, experiment with practice forms, or temporarily morph into a coder. Create an account, build your form. Magic.

Image of Watu customer service survey

What does it look like?

This is the best part about typeform. Beyond being super simple for managers to use, it’s beautiful for users (or, as they say, humans…) to reply via. Bold texts, varied colours, imagery and clean graphics come together with the singularly appearing questions to create a pleasant-survey-experience. Not three words you often hear together.

How can you add a form to Watu?

Whilst the form cannot be hosted by Watu itself (that’s taken care of by Typeform), you can easily insert the link in a booking email. To do so, simple take your Typeform URL – which you can find within the ‘share’ section of Typeform- and paste it into your ‘booked staffer description’ within the Job Description of your Watu account.

Add a little sentence to go along with it, let’s say for example “After completing your shifts, please take 2 minutes to fill out this questionnaire about the campaign” and paste in your link.

image of watu including a typeform link

Want to experience an example?

Conveniently for you, I’ve created an example and would love for you to take part. Check out our customer service survey and let us know what you think of Watu’s customer service at the same time!

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

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