Monday, October 3, 2016

European Court Rules That Time Commuting To & From Work is "Work"

I have mixed feelings about this one.

On the one hand, commuting to work is to me absolutely time away from home. It is not leisure time, and often not pleasurable at all. Indeed, if you are stuck in a massive traffic jam that is causing you to be late to work or, if on the other side of the day, you just want to get home after a stressful day at work and you are just crawling along, unable to get to where you are going, it is absolutely annoying and adds unnecessary stress.

So, I can definitely agree with the principle of it.

However, if this idea actually spread, I just know that companies are going to make sure that they get the better of things, and that might mean not hiring people who have longer commutes, for fear that they will have to shell out more money.

Perhaps people can be paid either one hour extra per day for two way commutes, or in some cases, even one hour before the shift starts, and one hour afterwards. After all, some people do indeed have long commutes. Even though this may not be ideal, it is the reality of the world in which we are living today. 

Still, all in all, this is still more of something that could and perhaps should be recognized in the future, although I do not believe we are quite there yet now. However, this court ruling in (where else?) Europe definitely should raise the issue of commute time being officially recognized as work time, as it is certainly time away from home, from leisure.

If government could somehow guarantee that companies will not be permitted to be heavy handed and take advantage of this (and that would be a tall order, frankly), this is a good idea who's time has come, and I applaud this court's decision.

However, I worry if we are quite ready to accept this kind of thinking yet. Frankly, I have my doubts, and especially here in the United States, where so many people seem to think and act and especially vote against their own best interests. Here, people too often feel guilty when they take advantage of the benefits that they are entitled to, including vacation time. It remains a mystery to me why so many Americans do feel this guilt, but there you have it.

In any case, the idea that the time you spend commuting is, indeed, "work" time, as it is clearly time devoted towards something relating to work (that is to say getting there and coming back from work) and that it is obviously not free time as such, does indeed mean that this is lost time. This could be an important ruling with ramifications beyond just Europe, although I admittedly do worry how this could be manipulated, as well.

A court has ruled that time spent traveling to and from work is “work”

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