All seafarers working in UK waters must be paid at least minimum wage rates, the UK government warned in new guidance published today.
The campaign is being pursued on the back of reports that some ships registered abroad were underpaying their workers in UK waters, undercutting UK crews.
UK Border Force patrols will be handing out information to seafarers and employers in more than 50 languages promoting minimum wage law.
Employers failing to pay at least National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage can face fines of up to 200 pct of the underpayment, public naming and, for the worst offences, criminal prosecution.
“Seafarers’ work is vital to key UK industries such as fishing, oil and gas. We are determined to ensure they are paid fairly for the work they do, often in challenging conditions,” Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said.
“Today we are making it crystal clear that if you work in UK waters you are entitled to at least the minimum wage and all employers – no matter where they’re from – must pay it.”
“We have run a number of maritime operations targeting unscrupulous employers in the sector, and are working with government enforcement agencies to take action taken against the minority of employers who do not treat their workers in line with UK law,” Border Force’s Modern Slavery Maritime lead Rob Meyer said.
Minimum wage law applies to seafarers when they are working on ships within UK waters and ports regardless of where the ship is registered, or where the worker ordinarily works or lives; on a foreign ship for work performed outside the UK if they ordinarily work in the UK and on UK registered ships if some of their work is in the UK and they live in the UK.