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Sophie Whitehead from the National Minimum Wage Team at HM Revenue & Customs explains how seafarers can ensure they – and their colleagues – are receiving the pay they are entitled to under new legislation
On 1 October 2020 the National Minimum Wage law was extended and now includes seafarers in UK territorial waters.
This means that almost all seafarers working in UK territorial waters and offshore workers in the UK sector of the continental shelf on sea bed exploration or exploiting natural resources are now entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage. This includes seafarers working on ships in the oil and gas and wind farm sectors, on ferries between UK ports, dredging, and fishermen.
This entitlement does not apply to either share fishermen or ships exercising a right of innocent passage navigating across UK territorial waters.
It doesn't matter where the ship is registered, where the employer is based, what nationality the seafarer is or whether they live in the UK. The hourly rate of pay a seafarer is entitled to depends on their age – the rates are £8.91 for 23 year olds and over, £8.36 for 21 to 23 year olds, £6.56 for 18 to 20 year olds and £4.30 for under 18 year olds.
If you, or somebody you know, has been paid less than the National Minimum Wage, you can make a complaint to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
If HMRC do open an investigation, we look at the entire workforce to make sure that all of your shipmates are being paid correctly too. If we find that anyone has been underpaid, we will tell your employer to pay the money owed.
HMRC looks into every case and has helped thousands of workers get money which they were owed. Last year HMRC helped more than 260,000 workers receive more than £20 million of unpaid wages.
Know and understand your rights. Make sure you get paid the correct minimum wage.