On-call duty from home is not working time

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Date:
08 Jun 2012

<p>According to the Court of Appeal of Liège, on-call duty from home should not be compensated as working time. Guard duty at work, on the other hand, should be considered as working time.</p>

According to the Court of Appeal of Liège, on-call duty from home should not be compensated as working time. Guard duty at work, on the other hand, should be considered as working time.

Recent case law did not always agree on the issue whether on-call duty from home (meaning that the employee should only be available to answer a potential call) should or should not be considered as working time. On 5 June, the Court of Appeal of Liège ruled an important decision in this regard.

The Court was confronted with the question whether on-call and guard duties from home and at the barracks, performed by volunteer fire fighters, should be considered as working time and therefore should be compensated.

The Court mentions that the notion "working time" should be interpreted in accordance with the European Directives and the ECJ's case law. Indeed, the Court of Justice already ruled in several cases that only the guard duties performed at work should be considered as working time.

On the basis of this case law, the Court of Appeal of Liège rules that on-call duty performed by volunteer fire fighters from their home should not be considered as working time. Only the actual intervention hours count as working time. On the contrary, guard duties performed in the barracks are in fact working time.

The Court also suggests that working time can be compensated in different ways, depending on whether the employees actually performed working hours or just guard duty. However, in the case at hand, only one type of remuneration was provided. Therefore, this remuneration should be applied to all the guard hours which can be considered as working time.