Seafarer employment key considerations

27 January 2021

Employing seafarers can be challenging, especially because so many considerations need to be taken into account.

Employment structure

As well as handling the administrative side of seafarer employment, we offer you a straightforward way to employ your crew who will be aboard your vessel or a vessel you manage.

ZEDRA’s bespoke solution allows for your seafaring employees to be employed by an individual cell of an incorporated cell company (ICC), which is a separate legal entity and thus ringfenced from the Yacht owning structure. Each cell of the ICC is regarded as an individual entity and has a standalone memorandum and articles of association, company number and its own board of directors.

Social security is dependent on the flag state of the yacht or vessel and country of residence of the seafarers. ZEDRA can help you understand these elements and ensure you are compliant with paying social security correctly.

Guernsey’s ICC structure is ideal for employing seafarers. Because each cell is effectively ringfenced and acts independently, the entity offers a complete segregation of liabilities, as well as flexibility and efficiency for employers, all within the framework of a corporate-style structure. ICC’s are becoming one of the ideal go-to’s for anyone employing seafarers.

MLC compliant Employment

So, what does anyone who owns a vessel and needs to employ crew, or who manages seafarers on behalf of ship owners and maritime companies need to consider, and how can ZEDRA support you?

It’s important you ensure that all crew working on the vessel have employment contracts, and that the contract is in line with the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and compliant. All seafarers have to have MLC compliant employment agreements, regardless of the work they carry out. This means that even if your crew work in hospitality, leisure or passenger services you’ll need to ensure their agreements are MLC compliant. ZEDRA can help you draft MLC compliant employment agreements and gather the electronic signatures that will make them binding.

Salary payments

Naturally, you’ll want to ensure your employees are paid on time, but have you thought about other considerations, like how seafarers can access their salary slips and how they receive their salary if they’re at sea? ZEDRA can handle salary payments on your behalf via our offshore online banking platform, and we’ll also ensure your employees can easily access their salary information and pay slips while they’re away from home.

Other administration

As an employer, keeping on top of the administration that comes with employment is critical – especially when it comes to seafarers. You’ll need to track annual leave, store medical certificates and other certifications and ensure you keep a record of other documents and that they remain valid. Seafarers also need to have access to certain documents, and as an employer, you’ll need to ensure that you provide a way for them to view these easily. We can track annual leave, hours of rest, seafarer employment history and certifications, ensure you are compliant with social security as well as providing you with a system that will allow your seafarers to access the necessary documents while they’re away from home.

Seafarers are central – literally – for the smooth sailing of ships, yachts and other maritime vessels. While employers recognise just how important their staff are, the administrative burden of employing seafarers can be significant and requires specialist expertise and experience dealing with this special workforce. Expert service providers like ZEDRA are ideally placed to take over the challenges that come with employing seafarers and making sure that all the aspects of employment are handled in a streamlined, timely and compliant manner.

How Can We Help You?