On 17 April 2019, the Dutch State Council (Raad van State) ruled that the Dutch Act on Minimum Wages applies to seafarers working on board of harbour tugboats (havensleepboten), provided their home harbour is in the Netherlands. This means that irrespective of where the ships are sailing in the world, they are obliged to pay minimum wage to the seafarers if the ship’s home harbour is based in the Netherlands. If the ships are only sailing in the Netherlands and not home harboured, the Minimum Wage Act is not relevant.
Employers of the seafarers, and agencies who supply seafarers to ship owners, need to be aware of whether the ship in question has its homebase in the Netherlands in order to avoid a penalty. Should a home harbour be present in the Netherlands and it is found by the Dutch Labour Inspector that a Dutch minimum wage has not been paid, the employer risks a penalty that depends on both the period of underpayment and how much the underpayment is.
The verdict of the State Council is published on www.rechtspraak.nl (only in Dutch). The reference is: ECLI:NL:RVS:2019:1235