National Minimum Wage For Seafarers Comes To Effect In UK

.A floating pipe barrier, part of the environmental protection barrier surrounding the M/V Golden Ray, was installed, March 26, 2020

 

The UK’s National Minimum Wage (Offshore Employment) (Amendment) Order 2020 (the Order) came into force on 1 October 2020, widening the scope and application of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and extending its provisions to individuals in “offshore employment” who are working, or who ordinarily work, in the territorial waters of the United Kingdom. The Order also applies to those individuals on ships engaged in activities connected with the exploration of the sea-bed or subsoil, or the exploitation of their natural resources, in the UK sector of the continental shelf.

The intention behind the Order is that these seafarers become entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW), irrespective of the ship’s flag or individual’s nationality.

The amendments mean that ships in the course of navigation, or engaged in dredging or fishing, are now included within the scope of NMW legislation.

“The intention behind the Order is that these seafarers become entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW), irrespective of the ship’s flag or individual’s nationality.”

Seafarers will be covered by the Order if they work on vessels operating between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Scottish ferries or other domestic services, provided the vessel remains in UK territorial waters for its entire voyage.

However, the position on foreign flag vessels travelling regular routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland remains unclear, as these may be outside UK territorial waters for a proportion of every voyage. There is no known case law on this matter yet, although commentary from the House of Lords does suggest ferries from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would be covered.

An exclusion has been carved out of the legislation for ships “exercising the right of innocent passage or the right of transit passage” (to be interpreted in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). The types of vessels that would come under this definition, and would be therefore unaffected by the Order, include:

Vessels entering UK territorial waters as part of an international voyage, such as ferry services operating between the UK and continental Europe (as well as the Republic of Ireland); and
Voyages calling at a British port as part of an international, multi-port voyage.