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Consultant Frequently Asked Questions


There are a number of questions that we are asked on a regular basis and we have compiled a list of questions and answers below that we hope you will find useful.  If you have any other questions about working as a consultant or contractor in the oil and gas industry, please contact us.

What constitutes a professional reference?

A professional reference is one that comments on your experience working in the oil industry and confirms your ability to do the job you are applying for.  As a result these references should be provided by someone who works in a recognised oil industry company and should come from their works email address.  Unfortunately we cannot accept references sent from personal email accounts such as hotmail and gmail.

When requesting a reference from a previous employer please ask them to include details about the type of work you performed as this will be a big help to you when applying for other positions.  Vague references that simply mention the dates you worked at a company cannot be accepted.

Who should I list as an emergency contact?

Whilst we always hope that we will never have to contact someone in an emergency there are always occasions when we do need to contact someone on your behalf.  Your emergency contact should be your next of kin, i.e. wife, mother, father or adult children.  Where such a person is not available you can list someone who you trust to act on your behalf.  Remember, we may have to contact this person if you are involved in an emergency so make sure they are someone who has access to your other contacts, your house and paperwork etc.  Finally, please make sure you tell this person you have listed them as your contact so that they are aware of the situation.
 
One helpful tip we have discovered:  If you ever need to change your next of kin's details in your passport please do not use correction fluid, stickers or cross it out with a pen.  Simply write the new details on a slip of paper and put it inside your passport secured with a paperclip.

Why don’t you tell us who the client is when you advertise a job?

Often our Clients ask us to keep their details reserved until a consultant has actually submitted their application.  When advertising a job we will not disclose the name of the client until you have submitted your interest.  Once you have shown an interest in the position it is often possible for us to tell you full details about the client and the location to help you make your decision as to whether or not to progress your application.  
 
If there are any companies you particularly do not want to work with you can tell your primary contact who will make sure your account is marked accordingly.  This will ensure that we don’t contact you for these positions directly.

How will I get paid?

Payments are made via a bank transfer to your nominated account.  In order to be paid for any work undertaken with Oil Consultants you must submit a timesheet signed by the client along with your invoice.  Without this we cannot pay you so it is vital you complete and return the paperwork when requested.  Payments will then be made from 30 days of the date of submission.  Please note, however, that payments are not made on Saturdays, Sundays or UK Bank Holidays.
 
Expenses are paid in the same way and all expenses forms must again be signed by the client.  If you are going to be claiming for a return journey and you know the price in advance you may find it easier to add the return section to your expenses before you leave the project site and get it signed.  This will save you waiting on all the expenses to be approved after you have completed the project.

I’m struggling to get my timesheet/expenses signed, who do I need to speak to?

Ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure that your timesheet and expenses are signed off after each job by the appropriate person you have been working for.  However, if there are genuine difficulties speak to your Business Development Agent (BDA).  This is the person who put you on the job and they will be able to try and help get your paperwork signed.

The client has signed off my expenses so why can’t you pay them straight away if I don’t include all the receipts?

Your expenses will usually be signed off by someone in ‘operations’ not accounts.  Our clients’ have to follow strict legal procedures and may not be able to release a payment for expenses without receipts to prove what the payments are for, even if the paperwork has been signed off and agreed by someone else within the company.  In these situations we will withhold payment of expenses until the client has agreed to pay the amount requested.  The easiest way to avoid this situation is to ensure you keep receipts for everything you pay for during your project rotation and submit these along with your signed timesheet, invoice and expenses claim.

Why don’t you send a notification for receipt of expenses?

Our policy is to send a single notification when we receive your timesheet since this is usually the main part of our payment to you.  If you submit your timesheet, invoice and expenses together you can assume that the notification covers your expenses as well.

My payment hasn’t arrived in my Bank Account on the day you made it, why?

Payments to banks in the UK are made via a BACS transfer which can take up to 3 working days to clear depending on which bank you use.  For international payments times can be much more variable and since a lot of the timing is controlled by end recipient bank we cannot guarantee and arrival date.  However, if your payment has not shown up within 5 days of your remittance please contact our accounts team (accounts@oc99.com) and they will investigate it for you.

Why do I need to submit an invoice with my signed timesheet?

Because you are self-employed consultant you need to ‘bill’ us for your time before we can pay you.  If we don’t get a signed invoice we cannot process your timesheet.  We will send you a template invoice in your welcome pack to help you ensure you have all the correct information to process your payment efficiently.

I am a UK consultant but I don’t have a business bank account – can you pay into my personal bank account?

Unfortunately we cannot pay into a personnel bank account in the UK for legal reasons as we don’t pay your taxes or national insurance, these are things you are responsible for covering.  In order for us to pay you, you will have to either set up a limited company or register with an Umbrella Company.  For more information on these two options visit the Useful Information section of our website.

Do I have to wait till the end of the month before I can send in my signed paperwork?

Not if your job finishes before then.  If you job lasts longer than a month you would send in a signed timesheet, invoice and any expense claims at the end of each month you have worked.  However, if it is a short term job, or the job finishes early in the month, you don’t have to wait for the month to end before you send your paperwork in.

Do I have to organise my own travel etc.?

If you are placed through Oil Consultants we will ensure that your travel is arranged for you.  This may be done by the client company but is usually completed by our in-house team of mobilisers.  When you first register we ask you to tell us your ‘home airport’, this is the nearest international airport to your residence.  Flights will then be organised originating from this location, all you have to do is get yourself to the airport.  Once you arrive at the airport for your project location you will be met by a representative of the client company who will organise your on-going travel.

What kind of insurance do you provide?

When you are placed through Oil Consultants you are automatically covered by our insurance policy for the duration of the placement.  This insurance includes Employee and Public Liability as well as emergency medical and repatriation cover.  It also covers work in some high risk geographies.
Please remember that this insurance will not cover you if you are working through another company or during the times you are waiting for work.

Where can I get my offshore certificates?

There are many companies that provide training and certification for oil and gas workers.  Please make sure you check the validity of any organisation before booking a course with them.
Some helpful links include:
OGUK approved medical centres:
 
OPITO approved survival certificates:
 
MIST training:
 
More information:
 

What is the difference between a Consultant and an employee?

When you are an employee you work directly for a company.  Legally your actions are considered to be the actions of the employing company.  You will be paid from the business’ payroll and will be entitled to certain protections and benefits under the state laws.
 
A consultant is essentially someone who has set up business as themselves then provides services to a company.  The company will then pay the consultant’s business, not the individual.  As a consultant you will have to have established your own limited company (or be working with an umbrella company) and you will be responsible for payments of your own taxes.  Whilst on a contract you will be expected to work to the terms and conditions of the contracting company but otherwise you are free to determine when and where you work.  
 
Oil Consultants places both employees and consultants although the latter form the majority of requirements posted by our clients.  Once you are established as a Consultant you can register with us and we will suggest you to clients you have a need for your skills and experience.  Your invoices will be made out to Oil Consultants and we will pay you directly as opposed to you having to secure payments from the client company.  By working through Oil Consultants you can also take advantage of our other benefits such as our insurance and mobilisation services.  However, you will not be an employee of either Oil Consultants or the client company.

How can I become a consultant?

If you are a UK resident you must first establish yourself as a limited company and there are many companies that will assist you with this.  Alternatively you can register with an umbrella company.  This still allows you to work as a Consultant but you will pay a fee to the umbrella company to handle all of your payments, taxes etc.  As a limited company you will be required to ensure you pay all your legally required taxes and submissions yourself.  For more information on Limited vs. Umbrella Companies please have a look at this third party website.  Non UK consultants do not need to follow these steps.
 
Once you are a consultant you will need to find work and most people do this through an agency.  Oil Consultants will not only provided you with one of the widest choices of vacancies available on the global market, we will also actively promote your CV to our clients, helping you reach the widest audience and giving you a better chance of securing a contract.  To benefit from our services you will need to register with us and provide at least two professional references, a detailed CV, a copy of your passport and a valid medical certificate.  From there you will be appointed a primary contact who will work with you to find the most suitable positions for you.

Do you supply our PPE?

The PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) required varies from job to job. Oil Consultants does not supply this for you.  Basic PPE includes a hard hat, gloves, eye and ear protection, coveralls and steel toe-cap boots and we recommend that you have these as a very minimum.  If a position requires any other specific PPE we will make sure you are informed in advance of mobilisation.

Do you have a medical plan or other benefits?

When you gain a placement through Oil Consultants you will be working for the client company either as their direct employee or as their independent contractor (a consultant).  Either way, you will not be directly employed by Oil Consultants so we cannot offer you any workplace benefits such as health insurance or pension plans.  However, when you are placed through us as a consultant you will be covered by our insurance which includes both Employee and Public Liability insurance, provision for medical emergency and repatriation cover as well as cover for some high risk areas.

Do I need to register for VAT?

Although our headquarters are in the UK, our consultants are based, and work, globally.  However, check with your local tax or government office, or accountant, as the situation will vary depending on your country of residence and place of work.  You will need to make your own arrangements for payment of your personal income tax.

What are your agency fees?

If you are a consultant you will not pay us a fee.  We are aware that there are some agencies ask for an upfront fee in order to find you work, we will never do this.  Once we have agreed your day rate for a position you simply submit an invoice to Oil Consultants, along with a signed timesheet and any expenses, at the end of the job or at a time period previously agreed.  You are paid by Oil Consultants, not by the client.  Furthermore, we will pay you all of the money you have earned and we do not retain any of your earnings to be paid at a later date as a ‘bonus’!
 
We also offer you free insurance, mobilisation support and access to our competency scheme.

I am permanently employed – can I work on my days off?

There are very strong industry guidelines in place regarding working on rest days because of the Health and Safety issues this can raise.  As a result Oil Consultants will not offer you contract work if you are remaining permanently employed or are looking to work during a rest period.  We will refuse you a placement if we realise that this will mean working during a statutory rest period.

I have little or no experience in the oil industry – can you help me get my first job on a rig?

Unfortunately, the answer in the majority of these cases is no.  Oil Consultants is a specialist agency placing experienced workers in the oil and gas industry.  For certain jobs, companies in the sector need to employ experience people to perform short term projects on a temporary basis.  The skills needed to complete this work can only be gained through many years practical experience performing that role.  We appreciate that many people looking for their first job in the industry find it extremely frustrating when they are turned down for roles because of lack of experience, but can’t get that experience until they get their first job.
The main tip we would give you is be persistent and be patient, your opportunities will come.  Remember, all our consultants were in your situation once!  There are many other agencies out there that offer work to rig hands and roustabouts but please, be careful, as we are aware of a number of scams that are currently being run.  No reputable agency will ask you for money up front to find you a job.  Finally, many of our consultants gained their first job by working direct with the service companies so keep an eye on their careers sections of their websites.  We have included links to some of the major company sites below:
Company Careers Web Link
 
 

 

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