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Pension & Social Security
Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2011 8:44 PM
Joined: 19/12/2010
Posts: 5

Hi to everyone!!! I am a Merchant Navy Officer and I have a small experience of 1 year working as chief mate on yachts in the Meditteranian and mostly at Cannes/France. I would be grateful if somebody can give me some information with the pension and Social Security. How do proffesionals of the industry manage these matters? For example a Captain on a 60m Yacht with 20years experience when can he get his pension? If he is off hire and needs medical treatment who is going to pay??? thank you....

Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 10:41 PM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1064

It'll be interesting to hear how this is handled in the EU nations. In the US, it is handled one of two ways. If you are on a US flag vessel, the owner/operator will be filing W-2s and withholding Social Security and whatever other witholdings. If you are sailing under a foreign flag between foreign ports, you are exempted a large portion of income tax and are required to take care of your own Social Security contributions and other financial planning towards retirement and such.

Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 10:45 PM
Hi Kmadou, only speaking from personal experience so very happy to be told I am wrong. None of the yachts that I have worked on or heard of make provisions for pensions and social securities. This would be for you to do voluntarily with your own countries national agreement or privately as you so wish. However, I have heard that potentially some of the new laws coming into force from the Maritime and Labour Convention may affect social security payments by employers in the future, dependent on flag state.
With regards to needing medical treatment the yachts I have worked on have health insurance policies that cover crew on and off the boat regardless, with the exceptions of some extreme sports. Hope this may be of some help.

Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 10:54 PM
Joined: 09/09/2008
Posts: 78

Actually as a US citizen, it does not matter what flag vessel you work on for tax purposes, the exemptions come depending on how much time you are out of the US, not what flag you sail under. Who pays the rest depends on who you work for. As for pension, We have a 401k that for every dollar we contribute, the company puts in fifty cents. Others on US vessels, I have heard have some retirement plans set up. I haven't a clue as to foreign vessels. As to your country of origins plan, I would assume its based on what you pay in over time. With one year under your belt, I would recommend you set up something yourself, since we work in an industry with most if not all of our expenses covered we are in a unique job that allows us to sock it away......or you can go to the pub and drink it away with your mates!
Posted: Saturday, November 19, 2011 4:02 PM
Joined: 19/12/2010
Posts: 5

Thank you very much for your information! I believe the best choise is to arrange with my countrythese matters and additionally I will make a private insurance for pension and Medication!

Posted: Monday, November 21, 2011 9:33 AM
Joined: 01/12/2008
Posts: 62

Hi, the primary way to look at this is that GENERALLY the responsibility for social security calculation and payment is based on where you work (the flag state) and tax is based on where you live (your residency). Tax residency is a matter of FACT not choice...but that's a separate issue.

the confusing nature of social security is that it may also depend on your citizenship, the flag state of the boat you work on, the location of the owning company and the location of the company which pays your wages. For the charter industry we are about to see how this will be policed through the MLC06 inspections (which have already started taking place).

in my opinion, the future of the yachting industry will include employment companies based in certain locations where they can reduce or totally mitigate the social security liability and EVERY crew member will be employed by one of these types of company and then 'rented' to the boat. The IT consultant industry has used this model for years.

the benefits are that the captain can then employ the best crew (without having to consider the implications of their nationality), there will be reduced cost private pension and healthcare due to the buying power of these businesses and the owner wont have to worry about possible liabilities... and it will be MLC compliant (probably).

for example:
a Brit working on a an Isle of Man flagged vessel, paid by a Guernsey based management company very probably should be paying UK National Insurance, and so should the boss for this member.... but what about an Australian on the same vessel????

Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 11:29 PM
How will it be regulated through the MLC? And does anyone have a timeline when the regs will go into effect?

Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 12:31 AM
Joined: 01/05/2008
Posts: 65

You can read more about the MLC social welfare regulations in our Seafarers' Bill of Rights feature in Dockwalk's November issue. Read feature

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