Government introduces law to protect seafarers’ pay

seafarers payThe UK government has implemented legislation designed to protect seafarers from receiving pay levels below the national minimum wage.

The Seafarers’ Wages Act received Royal Assent on Friday 23 March, preventing firms from using legal loopholes to pay low wages to seafarers. This was introduced as part of the government’s nine-point plan to boost rights and working conditions for sea workers.

The law also requires authorities to charge vessel operators who do not provide evidence that they are paying their staff the equivalent to national minimum wage. Those who fail to comply will be refused harbour access.

According to the government, it made this change as part of a commitment to seafarers both domestically and internationally, as well as in response to P and O Ferries laying off nearly 800 members of staff without notice or consultation last year.

The government stated that it will continue to engage with the UK’s European neighbours to protect seafarers’ welfare and pay, look into creating minimum wage equivalent corridors in territorial waters, and take action against employers using fire and rehire practices by consulting on plans for a statutory code of practice.

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.”

Earlier this month, Harper met with French transport secretary Clément Beaune during the UK-France summit in Paris, with both pledging to improve conditions for those working in the channel and to protect them from exploitation.