The European Court of Justice has ruled that the time spent by tradesmen travelling to their first customer of the day counts towards the 48-hour working week, which the UK government admits will increase costs for businesses.

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Under current UK guidelines, time spent travelling at work does count towards working hours, but "normal travel to and from work" and "travelling outside normal hours" does not. This court ruling will be a contradiction to that.

British government lawyers argued against the new ruling, stating that it could be abused by dishonest employees but the court replied that it was up to the companies to prevent that.

Allie Renison, the head of trade policy at the Institute of Directors said: "The Working Time Directive needs to be reviewed, in order to resolve the lingering questions which are now being ruled on by the ECJ. Ensuring that employers do not have additional costs and burdens sprung upon them like this must be a core element of the Prime Minister's renegotiation efforts."

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