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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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I work offshore in the oil industry and I have now for over

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Hi I work offshore in the oil industry and I have now for over a year. I recently recieved a letter telling me that the current rig I am on they will not pay for my final day of my trip where I'd still be expected to work my shift of that day until I get a helicopter back to Aberdeen then I have to travel back home. Is this illegal? I have not signed anything to say I accept this. Can you help?

Hello how long have you worked there for and does your contract currently say that you would get paid for this?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have worked with this company for 17 months and in my contract it says I will get an offshore uplift for every day I am away. I have always been paid for my last day of any other trip but as this is a new client for my company they are trying to win more work from them by not paying for the workforce demobilisation day. I was under the impression that I would atleast have to sign something to say I agree to this as I will essentially be working a day without pay.

Hello, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. Strictly speaking you would have to agree to such changes if they amount to a change to your current contractual terms and conditions. However, they may be able to get away with this mainly due to your length of service.

Generally, there are a few ways in which an employer may try and make changes to an employee’s contract of employment. These are by:

· Receiving the employee’s express consent to the changes.

· Forcefully introducing the changes (called 'unilateral change of contract').

· Giving the employee notice to terminate their current contract and then offer them immediate re-engagement under a new contract that contains the new terms.

If the changes are introduced without the employee's consent, then the following options are available:

1. Start working on the new terms but making it clear in writing that you are working ‘under protest’. This means that you do not agree with the changes but feel forced to do so. In the meantime you should try and resolve the issue either by informal discussions or by raising a formal grievance.

2. If the changes fundamentally impact the contract, for example changes to pay, duties, place of work, etc., you may wish to consider resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. However, you need 2 years’ service to be able to do so which you do not have.

3. If the employment is terminated and the employer offers re-engagement on the new terms that could potentially amount to unfair dismissal. However, again you need 2 years’ service to be able to claim.

So in effect they can force you to resign because of this or end your current contract and re-issue you the new terms that exclude this payment and you cannot challenge it.

The only way you could be able to get something out of it is if you did not accept the changes and started working under protest and they did not actually take steps to terminate your current contract but just overrode it. In this case they would be acting in breach of contract because they are going against the terms of the current contract. You could then consider seeking compensation for the days you were not paid for until they either terminated your employment, you accepted the changes or they issued you with a new contract.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to follow if you wanted to take this further under breach of contract, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

Thank you. Whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps:

1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due.

2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.

3. Before you consider starting legal action you may wish to consider sending a formal statutory demand. This is a legal request which asks the debtor to pay the outstanding debt within 21 days and failure to do so will allow you to bankrupt the debtor (if they are an individual ) or wind up the company (if they are a business). For the relevant forms to serve a statutory demand see here:

4. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.

Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This has helped me understand where I stand with my situation and I shall take some time to consider my options.Thank you
Ian Young

You are welcome, all the best