5.4.2023 | Maritime

Seafarers to receive better pay and working conditions

The Seafarers’ Wages Act received Royal Assent on 23 March 2023 and is now law.

Thousands of seafarers should receive better pay from this month, following the introduction of a new law.

The Seafarers’ Wages Act came into force on March 23 and is designed to boost the pay of seafarers who work on UK waters as the government continues to crack down on unfair practices.

At the recent UK-France summit, both governments agreed to continue working together to improve conditions for seafarers, and this new law is part of a nine-point plan to change and improve working conditions.

It comes following the sacking of nearly 800 staff last year by P&O Ferries, which led to an outcry across the industry and the wider business world.

The new law is designed to protect those working on vessels operating an international service from being paid less than the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
The law change will also require authorities to charge operators of vessels who do not provide evidence they’re paying their seafarers the equivalent of the National Minimum Wage (the NMWe) and to refuse harbour access to those who continue to fail to comply.

During the UK-France summit in Paris, the Transport Secretary met his French counterpart Clément Beaune, with both nations pledging to continue working together to improve conditions for those working in the Channel and to protect them from exploitation.

Under previous legislation, only certain seafarers who worked in UK waters were entitled to receive the NMW.

However, the Government has now empowered Statutory Harbour Authorities to impose surcharges on shipping service operators who cannot confirm that certain seafarers who do not qualify for the NMW because they do not ordinarily, work in the UK, are paid at least an amount equivalent to the NMW when in UK waters.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Our maritime sector is world-leading. That’s down to the thousands of hardworking seafarers working tirelessly to maintain supply chains and transport passengers safely across our waters.

“These workers deserve a fair wage, and I’m therefore delighted to see our Seafarers’ Wages Act become law, helping improve pay and protect seafarers from exploitation.”

Seafarers who are not entitled to NMW should receive the NMWe for time spent working in UK waters if:
• The ship or hovercraft on which they work provides a service for the carriage of people or goods between the UK and overseas.
• The service calls at a UK port on at least 120 occasions over the course of a year (For example, once every 72 hours on average).
It’s worth noting that services provided for the purposes of leisure or recreation, or by fishing vessels, are outside the scope of the Bill.

If you or your business needs support, please contact Beatons Group at info@beatons.co.uk or call the team on 01473 659777.