New UK law to boost seafarer pay


Thousands of seafarers regularly entering UK waters should enjoy better pay protections, as the Government continues to boost rights and working conditions whilst preventing firms from using legal loopholes to pay low wages.

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

A key strand of the Government’s nine-point plan for Seafarers, the new law is designed to protect those working on vessels operating an international service from being paid less than the National Minimum Wage.

The law change will also require authorities to charge operators of vessels who don’t provide evidence they’re paying their seafarers the equivalent to National Minimum Wage, and to refuse harbour access to those who continue to fail to comply.

Last year, P&O Ferries (latest ferry pictured) sacked nearly 800 staff without notice or consultation. The UK Government has acted swiftly to progress its nine-point plan in response to this behaviour and remains committed to seafarers as a priority, both domestically and internationally.

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.”

The Government continues to engage with the UK’s near European neighbours to protect seafarers’ welfare and pay and explore the creation of minimum wage equivalent corridors in our respective territorial waters.

Earlier this month, 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.
The Government is also taking action against rogue employers using controversial ‘fire and rehire’ practices, consulting on plans for a Statutory Code of Practice.