Seafarer employment

21 October 2020

Employing seafarers is both complex and technical. Any parties employing seafarers have to ensure they meet with all relevant regulations and conventions to engage their staff correctly.

Some key employment considerations

To employ seafarers, protocols need to be addressed and considered. These include:

  • Ensuring the employment agreement is fair, and conditions are consistent with the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC2006).
  • Guaranteeing each seafarer has an employment agreement and is paid at, or more than a minimum wage.
  • Seafarers are paid regularly and by the terms laid out in their employment agreements (not more than at monthly intervals). Separate provisions need to be made for overtime. Employers must also ensure seafarers can access means by which to transfer their salary to family/other parties as needed.
  • Hours of work and rest are defined.
  • The age of seafarers is considered (particularly applicable for young seafarers).
  • Seafarers have the opportunity to take vacation/leave.
  • Repatriation is considered (either for vacation, employment termination or other reasons)
  • The employment agreement covers practicalities if the ship is lost or founders.

There are serious repercussions for not employing seafarers properly, but it’s easy to get contracts, administration and payroll wrong inadvertently. Without the right framework for employment in place, there’s a significant reputational, legal and operational risk – not to mention a big headache to untangle it all. These days, very few employers of seafarers take on handling employment themselves – the need for specialist knowledge is imperative. Here at ZEDRA, we have the technology and an expert team dealing specifically with seafarers’ employment. We are ideally suited for supporting employers of seafarers, whether these are superyacht crew or other commercial ships.

ZEDRA’s solution: employment agreements for seafarers

Using the latest software specifically designed for MLC compliance, we can draft crew employment agreements. We can also store and monitor seafarers’ certificates and track annual leave entitlements.

Our seafarer employment team handles employment contracts and practicalities for employers. At the same time, our solution is also beneficial for seafarers, too. Salary payments are made from our online banking platform. We provide the crew access to their payslips and salary information and we will soon have special technology which facilitates electronic signatures which can be used on standard mobile devices. Our systems have been developed specifically to ensure that we are MLC compliant and are operated from our office in St Peter Port, Guernsey.

Structuring for employers

Seafarers’ working on a ship or yacht are employed by an individual cell of an incorporated cell company. The individual cell is a separately registered legal entity with its own memorandum and articles of association, a company number and its own board of directors. There is no exposure to seafarers’ income tax for crew employed by an offshore cell resident elsewhere, and social security depends on the flag state of the yacht and residency of the seafarers, all of which can be managed by ZEDRA.

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