French Government announces tighter regulations for yacht owners and crew

The French Government is making social security registration mandatory for crew who reside in France working on non-French flagged vessels. The decree is currently in force but employers have a grace period until 1st July 2017 to conform to the regulations.

Published as no.2017-307 on 9 March 2017 in the Official Journal of the French Republic, the decree sets out obligations for yacht owners and crew, stating that all seafarers, irrespective of nationality, residence or otherwise domiciled in France, will be required to make social security contributions to ENIM, the French mariners’ social security.  The crew members that the decree applies to will now be entitled to medical care, retirement benefits and provisions, in the event of their death.

According to reports from Superyacht News, Jean-Philippe Maslin, associate at Ince & Co said, “This decree applies to all crew members that have a stable and regular residence in France. However, ‘stable and regular residence’ is not a defined term in French law and, rather, it is determined by the precedents set in case law.”

If a crew member resides in France but is registered with another EU member state, or they reside in another state that has a bilateral social security treaty with France, then the decree does not apply.

This announcement comes in the wake of what Ince & Co claimed was an ‘increase’ in crew members successfully arguing that French law applies to their employment contract on termination. This ensured proper court proceedings were followed, that crew members are eligible for paid leave and could accuse their employers of ‘hidden employment’, possibly resulting in arrests of yachts and criminal sanctions for the employer.

Previously, a crew member wanting to claim against hidden employment on the part of the employer would need to prove the employer’s intent to not register said crew member with the French seafarers’ social security body, ENIM.

It not yet known what the impact will be of this new decree superyacht owner in France and yacht crew, and whether the courts consider the absence of this registration to be proof of intent to hide employment.

Maslin also said, “The issue is that this legislation did not take the superyacht community into consideration. It was drafted to address issues with ferries in North West France without realising that it would impact the entire yachting industry as a side effect.”

Learn more about your legal position with our guide to superyacht law.

For more information visit Gouvernement.fr

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