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Seafarers and manning

Danish Maritime Authority

Social security

In case of sickness, pension, maternity/paternity leave, etc. foreign seafarers employed on Danish ships are generally covered by Danish social security rules.

Sickness during service

If the seafarer is taken ill, the seafarer is entitled to free care on board or ashore. The right to free care includes medical assistance, hospital treatment and dental treatment corresponding to the assistance and treatment eligible for state subsidy under the general rules applying in Denmark. The subsidy for dental treatment is 50%. If the seafarer want to see a doctor, the wish must normally be granted. In addition, the seafarer must be examined by a doctor, if the master demands it. If the seafarer is left abroad, while the seafarer is ill, the seafarer must be put in the care of the closest Danish embassy or a similar Danish diplomatic mission, which will be in charge of the care until repatriation is possible. If the seafarer is taken ill during service, the seafarer may be dismissed if the sickness prevents the seafarer from carrying out the job for an extended period of time. The definition of “an extended period of time” is determined in each individual case. Normally, the master can base the decision on a medical certificate. If the seafarer is dismissed due to sickness, the seafarer is entitled to free repatriation. If the seafarer is not resident in Denmark, the seafarer is entitled to a free journey to the place of engagement.

Free repatriation includes

  1. Transportation from the location the seafarer were at when the seafarer were dismissed to the repatriation destination.

  2. Board and lodging during the journey, during the stay at the place of departure, while the seafarer are waiting for the journey to be arranged and until the arrival at the repatriation destination.

  3. Transportation of up to 30 kg of personal effects, but not of other items acquired during the journey.

If the seafarer is in service when the seafarer is taken ill, the seafarer is entitled to sick pay for a maximum period of 16 weeks or until the termination of service if the seafarer is still unfit for service. If the seafarer is dismissed due to sickness, the seafarer is also entitled to sick pay from the employer while the seafarer is unfit for service, but for no longer than 16 weeks. Sick pay includes the basic pay, seniority allowance, pension contribution and any education contribution. It does not include allowances paid for special service or for particularly hard and burdensome work or the like. The seafarer is not entitled to pay and have to pay the expenses for the return journey, if the seafarer has deliberately failed to disclose an illness or in case of self-inflicted illness.

Sickness benefits

The seafarer may be covered by the special provisions on sickness benefits for seafarers. The seafarer is not entitled to receive sick pay and sickness benefits at the same time. Sickness benefits for seafarers are paid out either by the Danish Maritime Authority or by the employer.

The seafarer may be covered by the rules on sickness benefits for seafarers if:

  • the seafarer is working on board a Danish ship not exclusively engaged on domestic voyages,

  • the seafarer is staying abroad and have, during the last two weeks, served on board a Danish merchant ship, provided that the seafarer have not taken another job after the service ended, or

  • the seafarer is employed by a shipowner and staying abroad in the course of the employment.

If the seafarer is working on board ships exclusively engaged in domestic voyages or if the seafarer take the holiday/days off ashore in Denmark after termination of the service, the seafarer is covered by the general provisions on sickness benefits – even though the seafarer is still employed by the shipowner. Sickness benefits will be granted in case of full incapacity for work due to own sickness or injury. If the employer is not paying sick pay, the sickness benefits will be paid by the employer. To be eligible to receive sickness benefits from the employer, the seafarer must have been employed with the employer in question for eight consecutive weeks before the absence and have worked for at least 74 hours during that period. If the employer pays neither sick pay nor sickness benefits to the seafarer, the Danish Maritime Authority will pay the sickness benefits after the first 30 days and for up to a total of 18 weeks counting from the first full sick day. The seafarer is only entitled to receive sickness benefits from the Danish Maritime Authority if the seafarer has been employed for 26 weeks immediately before the sickness commenced and the seafarer has worked for at least 240 hours, unless the sickness is due to an industrial injury. If the seafarer has suffered an industrial injury and remain unfit for work 18 weeks after the injury, the sickness benefit period will be extended until the Labour Market Insurance has made a decision as to any loss of earning capacity. In case of industrial injuries, the requirement of 26 weeks prior employment and at least 240 working hours does not apply. If the seafarer is resident in Denmark, the responsibility for paying the sickness benefits is transferred to the municipality of residence after 18 weeks at the latest. If the seafarer is resident in another EU/EEA country, the payment of sickness benefits will be referred to the municipality where the employer is domiciled. If the seafarer has suffered an industrial injury and are living outside the EU/EEA, the Danish Maritime Authority will continue to pay the sickness benefits after the period of 18 weeks until the Labour Market Insurance has made a decision as to any loss of earning capacity.

Sickness after termination of service

If the seafarer is resident in Denmark and is taken ill in Denmark after termination of service, the seafarer is covered by the national health insurance. This is also the case if the seafarer is working on board a ship exclusively engaged on domestic voyages. If the seafarer is staying abroad after termination of service, the seafarer is entitled to public health insurance benefits if, during the last two weeks, the seafarer has served on board a Danish ship, provided that the seafarer has not taken another job after the service ended. If the spouse and children under 18 years of age are staying with the seafarer on board the ship, they will usually have the same rights as the seafarer. Public health insurance benefits include medical assistance, hospital treatment, medicine and dental treatment corresponding to the assistance and treatment eligible for state subsidy under the general rules applying in Denmark. The subsidy for dental treatment is 50%. The seafarer is entitled to public health insurance benefits for up to 18 weeks as from the first full sick day or the day when the treatment (for example dental treatment) commenced.

Pregnancy leave (future and new mother)

If the seafarer retire due to pregnancy, the seafarer is entitled to receive wages (maternity pay) from the employer for as long as the seafarer have not found another job - however, for a maximum of two months. According to the order on medical examinations, the seafarer must work on board the ship when pregnant only up to and including the sixth month of pregnancy. When the employer is no longer obliged to pay maternity pay, the seafarer is entitled to receive maternity benefits from the municipality where the seafarer are domiciled or from the Danish Maritime Authority. The period during which the seafarer are entitled to receive maternity benefits from the Danish Maritime Authority starts four weeks before the expected delivery and expires 24 weeks after the delivery. The child's mother is entitled to receive maternity benefits for the first 14 weeks after delivery, but can choose to share the maternity benefits for the subsequent ten weeks with the other parent of the child; see below on leave for the child's other parent/parental leave. If the seafarer is staying in an EU/EEA country, the Danish Maritime Authority will - after the expiry of the 24 weeks after delivery - transfer the benefits case to Payment Denmark (Udbetaling Danmark) for continued payment of maternity benefits, if relevant, in accordance with the general provisions of the maternity act.

Leave for the child's other parent

In case of absence in connection with the birth of the child, the seafarer as a father or co-mother, are entitled to leave with maternity/paternity benefits from the Danish Maritime Authority, if the seafarer is staying abroad and have, during the last two weeks from the start of the leave, been serving on board a Danish merchant ship. At the same time, it is a condition that the seafarer has been employed uninterruptedly during the last 13 weeks before signing off.

If the above-mentioned conditions are met, the seafarer is entitled to receive maternity/paternity benefits for two weeks during the first 14 weeks after the birth of the child.

Subsequently, the seafarer is entitled to receive maternity/paternity benefits for an additional ten weeks, if the child's mother does not during the same period receive similar benefits or the like. This is the case irrespective of whether the child's mother receives benefits from Denmark or from another country.

After the expiry of the 24th week after delivery, the seafarer is entitled to receive paternity benefits for an additional two weeks (paternity leave). After the expiry of the 26th week after delivery, the seafarer is no longer entitled to receive maternity/paternity benefits.

Written by: Danish Maritime Authority Updated 15.03.2021
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