Employment: Offshore workers – “field breaks” count toward annual leave
An important decision for the oil and gas industry – the Employment Appeal
Tribunal (“EAT”) has reversed a previous decision that “field breaks”
(time spent onshore by offshore workers) cannot count towards statutory
minimum holiday entitlement.
The EAT held that offshore workers can be required
to take annual leave during field breaks, provided employers comply
with the notice procedure specified in the Working Time Regulations
1998 (“WTR”). The EAT stated it was irrelevant that industry work
patterns meant employees would not otherwise have been working during
field breaks. The crucial point being that employees are not obligated
to work during field breaks and are free to take annual leave in this
To comply with the notice requirements employers of offshore workers should either:
• give employees advance notice at the start of each leave year that annual leave must be taken during field breaks; or
• establish collective agreements or workforce agreements which state when annual leave must be taken; or
include an express provision in each individual contract of employment
that annual leave must be taken to coincide with field breaks.
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