Is training time considered working time?
The European Court of Justice, considering the case under the European version of our Working Time Regulations, the Working Time Directive, found that time spent doing vocational training at the employer’s request outside of their normal working hours amounted to “working time” for the purposes of the Working Time Directive.
This, of course, has implications for rest breaks and maximum working hours: if someone is performing vocational training until 11pm, they would not be able to start their normal work, for example, at 9am as they wouldn’t have an 11 hour break.
There is good news, however, this decision obviously falls after the end of the Brexit transition period.
This means that the ECJ decision is not binding on the UK. Nevertheless, this decision will still be very important as our Working Time Regulations 1998 are based closely on the Working Time Directive.
The parallels between the two are even more interesting when you consider that the decision in this case conflicts directly with our definition of working time in the UK. Our definition of working time expressly excludes training provided on a course by an educational institution, so vocational training should be excluded from working time under UK law.
The difficulty, however, is that under the law which led to us leaving the European Union, courts and tribunals may still "have regard" to post-Brexit ECJ case law "so far as it is relevant to any matter before the court or tribunal". This case, therefore, will be an interesting test of how far Judges are willing to interpret UK law to make it compliant with European decisions when they are no longer obliged to do so. Watch this space!