Law change sees British seafarers guaranteed national minimum wage

UK seafarers will be guaranteed the national minimum wage thanks to new legislation coming into force today.

From Thursday a change to the law will mean that more than 10,000 British seafarers will receive pay protection equal to every other sector.

Until now, maritime had been the only sector in the UK that did not apply national minimum wage protection for workers. For workers aged 25 and over, the UK’s national minimum wage is set at £8.72 ($11.29) per hour.

The country’s new maritime minister, Robert Courts, commented: “This is just the start – our Maritime 2050 strategy clearly sets the vision to see a fairer global maritime industry and the UK is determined to lead by example.”

Courts took on the new ministerial role last month, replacing Kelly Tolhurst, who served for just seven months before being appointed minister for housing, communities and local government.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Putrid government throws a few coins in the face of sailors to keep unions happy. Great 2050 Agenda!

  2. I think this applies to all seafarers that work in UK waters permanently, not just UK nationals or UK flag, all workers from anywhere on any flag.

    Does anyone know how long a vessel has to be working in UK waters for it to have to comply with the minimum wage requirements?

  3. $11.25 an hour doesn’t seem very much. After l served my time with Silver Line in 1969, when apprentices earned a whole, complete dollar a day, l only worked on UK flag ships for short trips on “B” Articles. At that time f.o.c.s paid twice the UK rate, cash in hand, no deductions, and certainly no tax. Once the shipowners mastered the trick of hiring cheap crews l could see f.o.c. wages falling.
    In the US they’re shooting for a $15 hourly minimum wage, for everyone, no exceptions. I would expect a UK seafarer on a UK ship to be paid $20-25 minimum.

    1. Minimum wage for working 12 hours a day for 6 months per year works out at around £22k, 8 hours per day for 6 months about £15k. So most people will get something in between £15-£22k on minimum wage, that’s not a bad starting salary. There is a special calculation for what mandatory leave pay you are due under MLC in the UK, you need to factor in public holidays etc.

        1. You could just about survive on £15-£22k if you lived in a poorer part of the UK where the property prices are cheap. Both parents would have to work, you couldn’t have one stay at home parent to look after the kids.

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