New legislation is now in force from today imposing a minimum wage for international seafarers working in the UK.
Under the Seafarers’ Wages Act, shipping lines operating at UK ports must now pay seafarers at least the UK’s prevailaing minimum wage, regardless of the nationality of the crew or operator.
As of 1 July 2022, the International Labor Organization’s recommended basic minimum wage for an able seaman is $648 (£550) per calendar month, an equivalent to an hourly rate of $3.20 (£2.66), making the UK minimum wage the highest level of pay for seafarers
The new law forms part of the UK Government’s 9-point plan to introduce pay protections, tackle unfair practices and improve the working conditions for seafarers following the P&O Ferries scandal in 2022.
Seafarers working on ships that call at UK ports at least 120 times a year will now be entitled to a wage rate that is at least equivalent to the UK national minimum wage for their work in UK waters. The minimum wage in the UK is currently set at £6.83 ($8.40) for an individual between the ages of 18 to 20, £9.18 ($11.20) for those between 21 and 22, and for individuals age 23 and over the minimum wage is £9.50 ($11.60).
British ports have also been granted new powers to refuse access to ships that do not pay their crew at least an equivalent to the UK’s minimum wage.
Before the change in law, seafarers working on international routes to or from UK ports were not entitled to the country’s minimum wage unless they were typically a resident of the UK, did work at least to some extent in the country, or worked on ships flagged outside the UK.
“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,” said Mark Harper, the UK’s Transport Secretary. “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 UK Government is also advocating for European Union nations to follow suit and set minimum wages.