THE UK Supreme Court has heard that offshore staff are at work for 328 more hours a year than most workers and should be allowed extra time off for a family wedding or a “holiday of a lifetime”.
Unions took their long-running battle for paid holidays for thousands of employees in the North Sea oil and gas industry to the court yesterday.
Five justices were told the case could have implications for workers across the UK at the start of the hearing in London.
The RMT and Unite are arguing offshore employees should get two weeks of paid leave a year under EU working-time rules.
Industry bosses say staff typically spend 26 weeks a year onshore not working, which more than meets the legal requirements.
Thomas Linden QC, for the unions, said: “If a comparison is made with the average five-day-a-week worker, in fact the offshore worker is working substantially longer in an average year. Effectively 328 hours more per annum than the standard five-day-a-week pattern.”
He added: “There might be a situation where a relation is getting married or it’s a holiday of a lifetime, and they may wish to say they want to take one of these (13, two-week) trips as annual leave.”
The legal battle was taken to the Court of Session in Edinburgh a year ago, where it was ruled offshore shifts met EU regulations. The unions appealed against this to the Supreme Court.
The case continues today.