Minimum Wage for Seafarers Increased

The recent amendments to the Seamen Wages Council Wage Regulation Order (Subsidiary Legislation 452.51) (the “Order”) by virtue of Legal Notice 469 of 2020 brought about an increase in the minimum wage of certain categories of seafarers in order to reflect an increase in the cost of living.

The amendment came into force on 1 January 2021.

Besides regulating minimum wages for certain categories of seafarers mentioned in therein, the Order also provides for rules relating to other working conditions for such categories of seafarers, for instance, vacation leave, sick leave, special leave and minimum overtime rates.

The Order is applicable specifically to all employees on board ships regularly operating within the territorial waters of Malta and cannot be applied across the board. It does not apply to employees working on board fishing vessels or foreign going ships.

On the other hand, the Merchant Shipping Act, Chapter 234 of the Laws of Malta (the “Act”) and the Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) Rules, Subsidiary Legislation 234.51 (the “Rules”) apply to the majority of categories of seafarers on board vessels registered under the Maltese flag. The Act and the Rules provide for different rules than those laid down in the Order.

Therefore, in matters falling within the ambit of the Order, the rules laid down in the Order, being the special law in such circumstances, would be applicable, rather than the provisions of the Act or the Rules. This does not exclude the possibility of an overlap in cases where vessels bearing the Maltese flag would be operating within Maltese territorial waters.