Skip to main content

MLC law change to protect pay for seafarers captured by pirates

26 November 2020

Nautilus has welcomed the introduction of new international employment rights for seafarers captured by pirates, which come into force on 26 December 2020.

The new rights are set out in the 2018 amendments to the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). They ensure that a Seafarer Employment Agreement (SEA) will stay in place while a seafarer is held captive by pirates on or off the ship – even if the seafarer's contract expires or is terminated by the shipowner.

This means that seafarers will continue to be paid their full wages while in captivity and receive any other entitlements due from the shipowner under the terms of their SEA, collective bargaining agreement or national law of the flag state. These entitlements could include holiday pay and pension contributions.

As a country which has ratified the MLC, the UK is committed to adopting the 2018 amendments into national law, and Nautilus took part earlier this year in a government consultation on how best to do this.

Nautilus legal director Charles Boyle commented: 'This is a very welcome addition to the MLC, as it will ensure that captured seafarers' families will be financially supported throughout the period of captivity, at a time when they will be suffering much stress and worry. It is also a very timely amendment, as there has been a resurgence of piracy incidents reported in the press recently.

'The UK has faithfully implemented the amendments, to take effect from 26 December, and all other MLC states are required to have the changes in place by that date at the latest.'