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Seafarer pay vs shore-based salaries

24 June 2017


Part of our series of blogs for Seafarers Awareness Week 2017

This year HR Consulting at Spinnaker will be producing two salary surveys – the regular and respected shore-based Salary Survey for Maritime HR Association members and the new and exciting Seafarer Pay Benchmarking for Seafarer Employers' Association members.

Both products have evolved in response to customer demand, and their development shaped by a selected group of end users themselves. Both surveys will also adhere to US Anti-Trust Legislation. However, that’s largely where the similarities end. Mitch Digby, pictured right, who led the design of the Seafarer Pay Benchmarking report said: “When we look at benchmarking salaries for shore-based staff, we think largely about base salary, allowances and bonuses. Many of the payments made at sea are similar, but there will be additional payments such as certification supplements, dangerous cargo allowances, leave pay etc. which need to be factored in.”

The different types of contracts used at sea contribute to yet more differences too. Shore based staff tend to be employed on fixed term or permanent contracts and therefore the emphasis is on comparing annual remuneration packages. With seafarers, who will have variable time at sea or ashore, annual comparisons are less meaningful.

The Seafarer Pay Benchmarking will focus on what we have termed the ‘Daily Wage In Hand’ – i.e. the actual money paid to the seafarer in their wage packet during their time on a vessel. The focus is more about enabling members to identify the cost of staffing a vessel from the rates of pay for seafarers.”

The nature of the roles at sea naturally differ to those ashore, but seafaring roles tend to be fairly standardised which actually makes them easier to map. On the seafarer side, Seafarer Employers' Association members can send their data in any format and Mitch will map it for them. “Send your data, get your report!” he says.

HR Consulting has over 10 years’ experience of benchmarking shore-based salaries, and this expertise has been used to help develop the new Seafarer pay reports. However the differences between the two products helps illustrate the difference between the two parts of the maritime industry. Pay variables are just one of the challenges that contribute to the difficulties the industry experiences with sea to shore transition. And this example helps explain why we struggle to manage the process and get it right. Let’s hope that access to more information like this new report will help increase transparency and support the process.

Sarah Hutley, Compensation & Benefits Consultant, HR Consulting