Linda Torr: Legal requirements for offshore workers

With new maritime labour legislation coming into force from the International Labour Organisation in August 2013, the benefits provided to offshore workers are coming more into focus.

There are many considerations for an employer to ensure it complies with the new legislation, including the provision of benefits for health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection. This includes the requirement for pre-deployment screening, access to primary care while on board, including dental care, and occupational health.

The employer is required to provide a minimum level of cover that is available on board, in port, if possible, and is no less favourable than the employee would have access to via their home country social security. The cost of benefit provision needs to take into account a number of facets: pre-deployment screening, primary care provision on ship or rig, evacuation and repatriation services to ensure an employee can receive appropriate care if taken seriously ill, access to medical services when on shore, access to social security provision, provision of disability benefits, death benefits and repatriation of mortal remains.

Some of these benefits may be provided via insurance policies and there are established marine, oil and gas medical policies in the market. Due to access to primary care and screening requirements, these policies are competitively priced when compared to the general expatriate medical insurance market. These policies may include ship-to-shore benefit, but the majority will only provide evacuation once the employee has been moved to an onshore medical facility.

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With regard to disability and death benefits, the employer should ensure these policies can provide benefits to the employees, or their dependants, when in their home country and are compliant with any required legislation.

Linda Torr is senior consultant, global benefits practice at Aon Hewitt, and a member of International Employee Benefits Association