U.K. Sets Minimum Wage for Seafarers

U.K. seafarers
U.K. seafarers

By The Maritime Executive 01-21-2018 04:31:52

All seafarers working in U.K. waters must be paid at least minimum wage rates, the government has warned in new guidance.

The move comes after concerns about unfair competition, following reports that some ships registered abroad were underpaying their workers in U.K. waters, undercutting U.K. crews.

U.K. Border Force patrols will be handing out information to seafarers and employers in more than 50 languages promoting minimum wage law. Employers failing to pay at least National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage can face fines of up to 200 percent of the underpayment, public naming and, for the worst offenses, criminal prosecution.

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “Seafarers’ work is vital to key U.K. industries such as fishing, oil and gas. We are determined to ensure they are paid fairly for the work they do, often in challenging conditions. Today we are making it crystal clear that if you work in U.K. waters you are entitled to at least the minimum wage and all employers – no matter where they’re from – must pay it.”

Border Force’s Modern Slavery Maritime lead Rob Meyer said: "Border Force takes its role of tackling exploitation and protecting vulnerable people very seriously. We have run a number of maritime operations targeting unscrupulous employers in the sector and are working with government enforcement agencies to take action taken against the minority of employers who do not treat their workers in line with U.K. law.”

"The guide does not amend the law, and there has been no change in the entitlement of any seafarer in respect of the National Minimum Wage or the Equality Act," says Tim Springett, policy director at the UK Chamber of Shipping. The Chamber says the new guidance is the first of its kind on the application of the National Minimum Wage specifically to seafarers. Advice issued in respect of seafarers has until now been included in general guides and was amended frequently - without consultation with the industry - in ways that led to uncertainty rather than clarity.  

Minimum wage law applies to seafarers when:
•    they are working on ships within U.K. waters and ports regardless of where the ship is registered, or where the worker ordinarily works or lives
•    on a foreign ship for work performed outside the U.K. if they ordinarily work in the U.K.
•    on U.K. registered ships if some of their work is in the U.K. and they live in the U.K.