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The Supreme Court has held in the case of Russell and ors v Transocean International Resources Ltd and ors that it is not contrary to the Working Time Regulations for an employer to designate time when an employee is not working as statutory annual leave.
The claimants are offshore employees, working a pattern of two weeks on, two weeks off. Although their two-week ‘field break' onshore was more than enough to cover both their compensatory rest breaks and their entitlement to annual holiday the claimants contended that annual leave had to be taken out of the time that they were rostered to work offshore. The Supreme Court disagreed that the field breaks did not have the quality that would enable the periods within them to be enjoyed as periods of annual leave, stating that there is no indication within the Working Time Directive that it is concerned about the quality of the minimum periods of rest. The term ‘rest period' means any period that is not working time, irrespective of where the worker is and what he is doing, so long as it is a period when he is not working.
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