Offshore Workers' Leave
The Supreme Court has recently rejected the trade unions’ appeal in the case of Russell v Transocean International Resources Limited and others, holding that employers can lawfully insist that offshore workers take annual leave during their field breaks. In reaching its judgement, the Court refused to refer the issue to the European Court of Justice and as there is no right of appeal to Europe, the Court’s decision has effectively ended the uncertainty surrounding the legality of the “2 week on, 2 week off” rota.
However, the question of pay during annual leave remains a grey area: must companies take into account allowances paid whilst offshore? It’s likely that there will be court action on this shortly. It is worth noting that the Russell case proceeded on the basis that workers were not actually required to do any work during their field break other than attend occasional training courses, medical examinations and other meetings.
If you routinely require your employees to do some work during their field break, the number of uninterrupted field break days they are allowed should be kept under review to ensure that they receive their annual leave entitlement.