A new bill has been introduced in the UK to guarantee that sailors receive pay at least equal to the National Minimum Wage.

From 6 July, 2022, the Seafarers’ Wages Bill brings in new pay protection intended to prevent businesses from relying on lawful excuses to pay low wages and from underpaying seafarers who routinely visit UK seas.

The Government says it is closing the loophole that permitted sailors employed by ships that frequently call at UK ports to receive wages that were less than the UK National Minimum Wage for no other reason than that the ship provides an international service.

Vessels and services that call on UK ports at least every 72 hours on average, or more than 120 times a year, will now fall under these new pay requirements. The new rules place the UK ahead of other EU member states in terms of pay protections.

The Ports, Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Department for Transport will all have a role in ensuring compliance.

The change in legislation follows a government consultation in response to P&O Ferries’ dismissal of 800 employees earlier this year without notice or consultation.

As part of the Secretary of State for Transport’s seafarer protections 9-point plan, the Government is continuing to work with European neighbours on bilateral agreements.

As Editor of Lawble, Gill helps business and individuals become better informed about their legal rights. Gill is a content specialist in the fields of law, tax and human resources.