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Peripatetic workers - workers with no fixed work base

There are a number of employee/employer relationships which are now different from the traditional 9-5 job. A person's employment status will determine their rights and their employer's responsibilities.

A peripatetic worker is someone who works in multiple locations. It refers to someone who works away from their normal work base, or can also refer to someone who has no fixed work base.  For example a peripatetic teacher will travel from school to school providing a service.

Key points

  • A health and safety risk assessment for these workers should be undertaken, taking into account the fact that they will be working away from the normal work base, or will have no base, and also what type of work will be carried out.

  • Time on-call can be classed as working time in certain circumstances.

  • Time spent travelling from home to the first and last customer can count as working time.

Working time

Working time is the period when someone is working at their employer's disposal and carrying out activities or duties.

This can include:

  • working lunches, such as business lunches
  • training which is job related
  • travel if it forms part of the worker's duties, for example a travelling sales person
  • waiting to collect goods.

What isn't included:

  • Routine travel between home and work
  • Away from work on rest break when no work is carried out
  • Holiday and sick leave
  • Industrial action

On-call working time

On-call can mean an employee has to stay at a workplace while on standby to carry out work as and when required, this time will count as working time. 

If an employee doesn't have to stay at work while on-call, and therefore is free to carry out leisure activities but has to attend customers if required, then working  time will only be the time spent carrying out normal duties. For example a radiographer working in a hospital may go home following a working day, but may be called into the hospital if required, therefore the working time will be the time spent while working at the hospital.

Working Time Directive - ECJ judgement - September 2015

The European Court of Justice in a recent case gave the judgement that workers who have no fixed place of work, and spend time travelling from home to the first and last customer, should have this time considered as working time. The Court added that because the workers are at the employer's disposal for the time of the journeys, they act under their employer's instructions and cannot use that time freely to pursue their own interest. This judgement only relates to what counts as working time under the Working Time Directive, and this directive does not relate to pay.

Employers and employees should be aware that this may have an impact on breaks if the working day is extended as a result of travelling time. It is also worth checking employment contracts to see what they say about travelling time.

Acas is assessing the impact of this judgement on workers and employers in Great Britain and will provide more detailed guidance when it is available.

Employment status

The type of employment status of workers  will depend on their terms and conditions of employment. This will also determine what employment rights they have. The three main types are:


An employee is someone who works to the terms within a contract of employment, and will carry out the work personally. A contract exists when terms such as pay, annual leave and working hours are agreed.

An example:

A care assistant can travel from home to visit a patient but doesn't start from an office each day.


A worker will also work to the terms within a contract of employment and generally have to carry out the work personally. However some workers may have a limited right to send someone else to carry out the work, such as a sub-contractor.

An example:

An agency worker who has no base, such as a 24 hour electrician who is contracted to work for one employer but travels to different sites.

Self employed

A self-employed person will run their own business and take responsibility for the success of the business. Self-employed people are more likely to be contracted to provide a service for a client. They will not be paid through PAYE and don't have the same employment rights and responsibilities as employees or workers.

An example:

A self-employed peripatetic music teacher who provides singing lessons to different schools as a private provider. 

National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage is the minimum pay per hour most workers are entitled to. The minimum rate will depend on the age of the worker. Eligible workers will still be eligible even if they're not paid by the hour - the equivalent hourly rate will need to be worked out to see if the minimum wage is being paid. The salary or hourly rate should form part of the terms and conditions of employment.

A check can be made on GOV.UK - National Minimum Wage calculator for workers.

The compulsory National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage is due to be introduced in April 2016 for all working people aged 25 and over. The National Minimum Wage rate for those under 25 will continue to apply.

Health and Safety

There are a number of issues for these workers, a risk assessment will need to take into account the type of work undertaken, this may include:

  • Workers working alone
  • Working late, evening, and night shift
  • Violence towards staff
  • Safe use and maintenance of tools and equipment
  • Working with harmful substances, manual handling
  • Use and maintenance of personal protective equipment
  • First aid and emergencies