Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, Malcolm Webb, said: "Oil & Gas UK is very pleased that the highest UK Court, the Supreme Court, has upheld the previous rulings of the Court of Session and Employment Appeal Tribunal that time off work enjoyed by UK offshore oil and gas workers more than meets the minimum legal amount of annual leave that employers must provide their employees."
"Typical rotas worked offshore allow for over 26 weeks onshore, away from work, more than meeting the requirement of the Working Time Directive to provide 5.6 weeks’ annual leave."
- Oil & Gas UK is the leading representative organisation for the UK offshore oil and gas industry. Its members are companies licensed by the Government to explore for and produce oil and gas in UK waters and those who form any part of the industry’s supply chain. It has over 180 members.
- The judgement is available here and the press summary is here.
- Additional information on the Working Time Directive litigation:
- The Supreme Court hearing focused on whether offshore workers were entitled to holiday time in addition to the time they spend onshore on ‘field break’ away from work.
- A typical UK offshore worker works a two week on, two week off rota which means they spend over 26 weeks a year onshore on field break away from work. Therefore, the rota more than meets the requirement of the Working Time Directive to provide 5.6 weeks’ annual leave.
- Other professions where working patterns similarly require holiday time to be taken from breaks away from work include teachers (who take holiday outside of school term times) and sportspeople, such as footballers who have defined working ‘seasons’.
- Timeline of litigation:
- 16 May 2005: The first cases relating to offshore leave entitlement were brought before the Industrial Tribunal in Aberdeen. The Tribunal Chairman announced that the issue of whether the working time regulations were applicable to the whole of the UK offshore needed to be clarified before the more substantive issue of leave entitlement could be determined.
- 26 July 2005: The Tribunal Chairman ruled that the regulations were indeed intended to cover all of the offshore area, up to 200 miles. The industry appeal was unsuccessful and was subsequently dropped.
- 1 October 2006: Amendments to the Working Time Regulations came into effect, confirming that the regulations are applicable to all UK offshore areas.
- 21 February 2008: Aberdeen Employment Tribunal announced its ruling which:
- rejected the arguments that:
- the Jaeger principle should apply offshore
- that persons working a two week on, two week off rota are entitled to a further four weeks’ holiday taken from their working time
- time spent travelling to and from installations is not working time
- held that:
- rest can be and is provided sufficiently offshore
- that the four weeks’ holiday provided for under the Working Time Directive should be taken equally from time spent offshore and that spent onshore, giving an additional two weeks’ annual leave.
- rejected the arguments that:
- 9 March 2009: Employment Appeal Tribunal announced that time off work enjoyed by workers on a two week on, two week off rota more than meets the minimum legal amount of leave that employers must provide their employees.
- 19 October 2010: Court of Session ruled that time off work enjoyed by UK offshore oil and gas workers more than meets the minimum legal amount of annual leave that employers must provide their employees.
- 7 December 2011: Supreme Court upholds decision of Court of Session.