(Updated 10 March 2022.)
This arrangement was introduced with effect from 8 February 2022 and lasts until 17 March 2022.
The increased infection pressure resulting from the Omicron variety can be considered an exceptional condition and for the time being also of limited duration. This means the conditions may be present for the employer, after a discussion with elected employee representatives, to extend the offshore period up to 21 days. The conditions for the PSA to extend the period beyond 21 days may also be present.
A large number of applications to extend the offshore period are expected for a short time. To avoid delays in considering such requests, the companies may extend the period until further notice for up to 28 days when the following conditions are present.
- A shortage exists of the qualified personnel required to maintain production or work associated with activities directly related to drilling and well operations, including necessary support functions. These qualified personnel are lacking because of conditions related to the coronavirus outbreak.
- A risk assessment must be conducted to establish that extending the working hours scheme does not expose the individual employee to unfortunate physical or mental loads, and that it is possible to observe safety considerations. The assessment should take particular account of avoiding overtime and night work, and describe how the workers are to be provided with compensatory rest or other suitable protection when work-free periods are reduced.
- The extension must be discussed with the elected representatives of the employees, who can require the company to apply to the PSA in the ordinary way.
- The employee has the right to be excused from an extended offshore period when they request this for health or important social reasons. The employer also undertakes to release employees on request when the work can be postponed or done by others without negative consequences.
- If an offshore period longer than 21 days has been utilised or is planned in accordance with the criteria above, an overall weekly report must be sent to email@example.com with a copy to the company’s contact at the PSA and to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12.00 on Mondays. This report must contain the names of the facility and the people affected, including employer, position, dates of travel offshore and (planned) return, and the duration of the period. A report form has been sent to contacts at companies and shipping firms.
If the above-listed criteria cannot be fulfilled, an application to extend the offshore period can be submitted to the PSA in the normal way. Applications for extensions beyond 28 days are unlikely to receive consent.
If the coronavirus position makes transport to and from the facility impossible, the PSA would refer to the guidelines under section 42 of the framework regulations which outline circumstances involving fog and the like and which will be indicative for this.
The relevant regulations are referenced below
- The applicable regulation is section 42 of the framework regulations:
- Offshore periods shall not exceed 14 days.
Periods between 14 and 21 days.
- The employer is responsible for assessing and deciding on extending the offshore period up to 21 days pursuant to the criteria in section 42 of the framework regulations:
- In cases of exceptional and temporary need, the employer can extend the offshore period by up to seven days for a single period, after having discussed the matter with the elected employee representative.
Periods longer than 21 days:
- In cases as mentioned in the second subsection, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway can decide to extend the offshore period beyond seven days.
Section 42 also states:
- Employees are entitled to exemption from extended offshore periods on conditions laid down in Section 10-6, tenth subsection of the Working Environment Act.
Section 10-6 (10) of the Working Environment Act (WEA) states:
- An employee shall be entitled to exemption from performing work in excess of agreed working hours when he or she so requests for health reasons or for weighty social reasons. The employer is otherwise obliged to exempt an employee who so requests when the work can be postponed or performed by others without harm.
The guidelines to section 42 of the framework regulations state:
- If fog or the like makes it impossible to travel to and from the facility, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway is not required to make an administrative decision extending the offshore period. The personnel on the facility at all times, shall also be able to work on the facility in a normal manner. If the situation becomes protracted, it may be necessary to consider other alternative transport alternatives. In situations where the stay on the facility becomes very prolonged, it should also be considered whether it is prudent to continue the activities with the existing workforce.
- It is important to emphasise that the WEA’s general provision regarding working hours in section 10-2 (1) states that: Working hours shall be arranged in such a way that employees are not exposed to adverse physical or mental strain, and that they shall be able to observe safety considerations.
- In addition come the other rules in the framework regulations on normal working hours, overtime, breaks and work-free periods. The PSA has not been delegated the authority to take decisions on deviating from these. Exceptions from these provisions can be agreed by unions entitled to submit recommendations. Section 10-12 (4) of the WEA states: Trade unions entitled to submit recommendations pursuant to the Labour Disputes Act or the Civil Service Disputes Act may, with the exception of section 10-2, first, second and fourth paragraphs, and section 10-11, seventh paragraph, enter into a collective pay agreement that departs from the provisions of this chapter. Exceptions from section 10-8, first and second paragraphs and section 10-11, fifth and sixth paragraphs, require that the employees are 32 ensured corresponding compensatory rest periods or, where this is not possible, other appropriate protection. The conditions laid down in section 10-6, first paragraph, shall apply to the use of overtime in accordance with such a collective pay agreement. In each case, the employee must consent to carry out the overtime work. The requirement regarding individual consent shall apply correspondingly where a collective pay agreement has been entered into stipulating total average working hours of over 48 hours per seven days for the duration of one year.