The time spent by the employee in security checks and in a shuttle upon arrival at the work site does not qualify as “effective working time” when the employee is not at the employer’s disposal.

Effective working time is the time during which the employee is “at the disposal of the employer” and “complies with his instructions without being able to freely attend personal occupations” (Sect. L. 3121-1 French Employm. Code).

For the French Court of Cassation (9 May 2019, case No. 17-20.740), even if the employee must necessarily use a specific shuttle and pass through security checks to join his place of work in a secure compound (airport), this travel time is no effective working time because the employee is not at the disposal of the employer during travel.

A question remains, whether the peculiar constraints imposed on the employee (security checks, shuttle) may qualify as extra-normal travel time (i.e. which “exceeds the normal travel time between home and the usual place of work“) and should nonetheless receive some form of compensation (financial or rest period, Sect. L. 3121-4 French Employm. Code).

One might answer in the affirmative since these constraints are the result of employer-given guidelines leading to an increase in the travel time. The French Court of Cassation, however, ruled in 2007 (31st October 2007, case No. 06-13.232) that the concept of extra-normal travel time does not apply to the time spent by an employee to get to his workstation within the premises of the company.

One is supposed to conclude that the specific constraints imposed on the employee by the employer would be … normal travel time which may seem rather difficult to justify.