The Supreme Court penalizes transport between the Peninsula and the Balearic Islands

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A ruling from the Social Chamber of the Supreme Court has interpreted for the development of business activity how the time in which a professional driver accompanies the truck that is transported on a ferry or ferry, which is the means used, should be considered. for the transport of goods between the Iberian Peninsula and the islands.

This ruling has its origin in the lawsuit filed at the time by a salaried driver of a Valencian transport company that transported goods between the peninsula and Palma or Ibiza, and who was fired in 2018 through disciplinary dismissal for lack of attendance at work.

Although on the journeys he made on the ferry he enjoyed a cabin with a bed to sleep in and, therefore, in accordance with the European regulations on driving and rest times, this period must be considered rest time as it was not done on board the vehicle. . However, the driver decided to claim compensation for said rest period, considering it presence time, which was rejected by the social court.

For this reason, he decided to appeal to the Superior Court of Justice of the Valencian Community, who, on the contrary, did consider said period in which the driver enjoyed a cabin during the sea journey as time of presence, condemning the companies to compensate the driver, considering that the worker, “while he remained on board, had to be available for any emergency or issue that arose,” expressly alluding to the possibility of having to change the truck’s location if required to do so, so concluded by stating that the periods during which the worker accompanies the vehicle transported by ferry should be considered time of presence and not time of rest, given that the driver “could not freely use his time, leave the boat or attend to his private life.” or family.”

Presence time or rest time

This motivated, in turn, the transport company to file an appeal before the Supreme Court for unification of doctrine, given the existence of a previous ruling from the Superior Court of Justice of the Balearic Islands contrary to recognizing said period as presence time.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court recognizes that article 9 of Regulation (EC) 561/2006 on driving and rest times establishes that the driver can take his normal daily rest during the periods of accompanying a vehicle transported by ferry, always that has access to a sleeping cabin, bed or bunk.

However, he considers that a national standard can improve the working conditions of drivers and, in his opinion, both the Spanish Royal Decree 1561/1995, which regulates working times in the transport sector, and the II General Agreement of the Road Transport signed in 2012, would allow, in the opinion of the High Court, to recognize an alleged presumption in favor of considering as presence time the time in which a road freight transport driver accompanies the vehicle that is transported on a ferry or ferry.

The consequences of this jurisprudential doctrine could be devastating for the road transport sector if this criterion is consolidated, due to the impact that it will cause, both economically and organizationally, of the work activity of the transport companies that carry out said route and the consequent increase in the price of the products. that are transported to the Balearic Islands, since it is the usual means used to transport goods between the peninsula and the islands.

Furthermore, although during the journey the driver enjoys a rest in the cabin, since the time in which the driver is on the ferry is not considered as rest, it would force him to have to take a new additional rest period of, at at least another nine hours upon reaching your destination