Guidelines regarding the right to salary

  • Published: 24/10/2016

The employer's obligation to pay salary as compensation for performed work is the counterpart of the employee's obligation to work. The main rule is that the employee is entitled to salary for the whole duration of the employment relationship.

The photo shows seafarers at work
Seafarers at work
PHOTO: Fotokonkurransen for sjøfolk

Chapter 4 of the Ship Labour Act contains, i.a., provisions on the calculation and payment of salary for employees working on board Norwegian ships.

Payment of salary

The Ship Labour Act section 4-2 first paragraph1 stipulates that employees working on board ships are entitled to receive salary at least once a month. On Norwegian ships, the pay level and calculation method is decided by the employees' individual employment agreements and collective agreements. Norwegian legislation does not regulate minimum wages.

Today, payment is normally done by transferring money to the employee's salary account. For some employees, it may be more practicable to receive payment in cash. The employee can require payment of salary to be made in cash if there is a particular need for it, cf. section 4 of the Regulations on employment agreement and pay statement, etc.2

Furthermore, the Ship Labour Act section 4-2 second paragraph entitles employees to a written pay statement, which is important in order to verify that payment of salary, additional payments and any deductions are made in accordance with agreed terms. Requirements for the contents of the pay statement are also laid down in section 5 of the Regulations on employment agreement and pay statement. The opportunity to make deductions from salary is regulated in the Ship Labour Act section 4-3.

Pursuant to the Ship Labour Act section 4-2 third paragraph, the employee may also require that all or part of the salary shall be remitted by bank transfer to others. This provision may be deviated from in a collective bargaining agreement for NIS ships, cf. the NIS Act section 8.3

Calculation of salary

In accordance with the Ship Labour Act section 4-1, agreements cannot be made for the salary to run from a later date than the day the employee enters into service. This will normally be when the employee joins the ship.

If the employee travels on instructions from the employer in order to join the ship, the salary is payable at the latest from and including the day on which the journey begins. This means that when the employer requires the employee to travel to a certain place to commence the service on board, the salary is payable from the time the journey begins. The employer must also pay salary for the time the employee has to wait at the destination before the ship reaches port.

The salary is the remuneration for the employee's personal output of work, and is payable to and including the day on which the employment relationship terminates, unless otherwise stipulated in an agreement4. A fixed monthly salary will therefore not be affected by whether the employer should, for instance, cancel or postpone a departure, unless special agreements thereon have been made.

The employment terminates after the expiry of the period of notice of termination, after summary dismissal or agreed date of termination of employment. If the employment relationship terminates due to a juristic act implied by conduct, i.e. that an employee behaves in such a way that it must be regarded as resignation, the actual date of termination will be decisive.

Temporary discontinuation of the duty to pay employees

During the employment relationship, the duty to pay employees may be discontinued in the case of absence from work. For instance, leave of absence will not entitle an employee to salary, unless this is expressly provided by law, in a collective bargaining agreement or in the employee's individual employment agreement.

The duty to pay salary is also discontinued in the case of unlawful absence. It must be seen as a general precondition of the employment agreement that salary can be reduced in cases of unlawful absence.

Regarding shares in earnings/lot

The Ship Labour Act section 4-1 only regulates the calculation of different types of running time wages (fixed monthly salary), and therefore does not apply to shares in earnings. In practice, the provision will therefore not apply to fishing, where the agreed payment is normally related to the catch (lot) or the number of days spent fishing.

In cases where running time wages have been agreed, the provisions of the Ship Labour Act section 4-1 will apply as normal. Employees may, for instance, have a fixed monthly salary agreement on special terms.

Supervision and sanctions

The Norwegian Maritime Authority may issue an order to the employer and the company when salary has not been paid. The order may be followed by a coercive fine and a violation fine. See chapter 12 of the Ship Labour Act.

Footnotes

  1. Act of 21 June 2013 No. 102 relating to employment protection etc. for employees on board ships (Ship Labour Act).
  2. Regulations of 19 August 2013 No. 1000 on employment agreement and pay statement, etc.
  3. Act of 12 June 1987 No. 48 relating to a Norwegian International Ship Register (NIS)
  4. The Seamen's Act section 21 included an explicit provision on such behaviour, but it was considered unnecessary to continue the provision in the Ship Labour Act.
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