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‘Apparently in Luxembourg Your Commute Is Part of Your Workday …’

Medieval Law and Order x
Medieval Law and Order

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"Apparently in Luxembourg your commute is part of your workday and that made me wonder how cities would look different if the employer was obligated to pay you for your commuting time. The difference it would make in the kinds of infrastructure that is prioritized."

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On January 2 2022, an Imgur user shared a screenshot of the following tweet, describing putative paid commutes in Luxembourg:

Responses (on both Imgur and Twitter) strongly suggested that readers broadly interpreted the tweet as an indication Luxembourg’s workers were guaranteed a paid commute, regardless of other variables, such as their place of employment:

“In reality companies like amazon would have a clause. Work for us, you have to live in this giant slum building 10 ft from the warehouse[.]”

“There’d be apartments in office buildings so your commute is minimised.”

“course that means employers would/could use your home loc[ation] and method of transport as conditions for hiring. at least the US would lol.”

“In the early ’70s my high school summer job was working in oilfields. Most employees lived an hour from the job site. Boss paid everyone 2 hours full pay commute time, whether you needed it or not. He didn’t go bankrupt. He got hard, honest workers.”

“Honestly I’ve always thought you SHOULD be paid for your commute. It’s two or more hours out of your day that you’re giving up to them not including the work day.”

Initially, we sought additional information about Luxembourg’s paid commute. However, a close reading of the tweet seemed to suggest that the claim was more philosophical and vague than it initially appeared:

Apparently in Luxembourg your commute is part of your workday and that made me wonder how cities would look different if the employer was obligated to pay you for your commuting time. The difference it would make in the kinds of infrastructure that is prioritized.

The original tweet stated that “in Luxembourg your commute is part of your workday,” adding that it prompted them to consider how cities might change if an “employer was obligated to pay you for your commuting time.” The tweet itself didn’t directly claim that workers in Luxembourg are explicitly paid for their commute time, it merely asserted that a worker’s commute was “part of” their workday.

Initial searches largely led back to the tweet itself, aggregations on “trends” sites, and iterations shared elsewhere. Searches on the website for the International Labour Organization for “Luxembourg” and “commute” were not productive.

One result from ILO.org, “Luxembourg[:] Hours of work, weekly rest and paid leave,” included a summary of basic worker protections in Luxembourg (but it did not appear to mention a paid commute):

Prohibits public and private sector employers from employing salaried workers bound by a work or apprenticeship contract on Sundays, except in establishments in which only members of the employer’s family are employed. List a number of exemptions such as agricultural companies, transport companies, non-stop companies and domestic service personnel, and provides for the possibility of derogating from the principle by regulation for seasonal activities, for reasons of public utility or activities contributing to the satisfaction of the needs of the public. Contains special provisions applicable to retail establishments (maximum working hours on Sundays), companies in which work is organized by successive teams in a continuous cycle (exemption from the principle of prohibition by company agreement). Specifies that employees working on Sundays, by virtue of a derogation, are entitled to compensatory rest as well as an increase in wages or compensation of 70 percent for each hour worked, and that the employer who intends to do use of a derogation, on a non-temporary basis, is required to request the establishment’s delegation (s) and notify the labor inspectorate.

Some commenters referenced Luxembourg’s free transportation, which was referenced in a February 2020 BBC article:

It has had months of hype and now finally Luxembourg’s free public transport has begun [in 2020].

With a population of only 614,000, it may be one of Europe’s smallest countries and the idea is not unprecedented … Some 200,000 workers – almost half of Luxembourg’s workforce – commute from Belgium, France and Germany, attracted by high salaries and a wealthy economy.

Later, the piece included details that seemed to contradict the idea workers in Luxembourg were paid to commute (echoed in contemporaneous news reports out of neighboring Germany):

Luxembourg spends more of its economic output on transport that most other European countries, with a reported €600 a year per person.

Critics complain the scheme will not tackle the lack of housing, which has forced thousands of Luxembourgers to emigrate beyond the country’s borders while keeping their jobs.

The closest provision we found in a resource regarding Luxembourg labor law covered relocation expenses, rather than commute time or compensation:

Under specific conditions (that is, those contained in Circulaire du directeur des contributions No. 95/2 (of 27 January 2014)), a highly qualified employee who usually works abroad and is posted in Luxembourg for a period of time can receive an allowance to cover relocation, accommodation and travel expenses. The employer can then declare these expenses as an operating expense for the company. The employer can also provide any other assistance to an employee that is relocating (for example, to obtain housing, or applicable visas or work permits).

Finally, two people replying to the Twitter thread self-identified as working in Luxembourg (or having a parent who worked there). They said:

“I am confused by this. i am not certain if I understood this. Are you stating that in luxembourg people are paid for their commute? Because that would be news to me, considering I have lived here all my life and never heard of it. Do you have sources to read on? Thanks in advance”

“My mom worked her entire career in Luxembourg and had 1h-1h30 (x2) of commuting time, depending of traffic jam , and it was never part of her working time. I’m not sure the 1st statement is true ^^”

A popular tweet stating in part that “[apparently’ in Luxembourg your commute is part of your workday and that made me wonder how cities would look different if the employer was obligated to pay you for your commuting time” was virally popular on both Twitter and Imgur. The tweet seemed to impress upon readers that workers in Luxembourg were paid to commute, but its phrasing didn’t seem to say that outright. We were unable to substantiate the claim, and individuals claiming to have worked (or had a family member work) in Luxembourg disputed the idea commutes in Luxembourg were compensated as work time.