Staff at ports will be given the power to suspend access to ships and firms that do not pay their crews the minimum wage, through the Harbours (Seafarers’ Remuneration) Bill.
The proposals will close gaps in the law used by firms operating in and out of UK ports to pay their crews less than the statutory minimum wage.
On March 30, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced nine commitments to protect UK seafarers including ensuring that a fair wage is paid on all ships operating in and out of the country.
It came after P&O Ferries terminated the contracts of 786 of its crew in the UK at a moment’s notice, and replaced them with agency staff.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We will stop at nothing to make sure seafarers in UK ports are being paid fairly.
“P&O Ferries’ disgraceful actions do not represent the principles of our world-leading maritime sector, and changing the law on seafarer pay protection is a clear signal to everyone that we will not tolerate economic abuse of workers.
“We will protect all seafarers regularly sailing in and out of UK ports and ensure they are not priced out of a job.
“Ferry operators which regularly call at UK ports will face consequences if they do not pay their workers fairly.”
Business minister Paul Scully said: “In contrast to P&O Ferries, who have shown utter contempt for their workforce, this Government is firmly committed to ensuring that a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay.
“By ensuring that seafarers working on ships which regularly call at UK ports are paid an equivalent to the minimum wage, today’s plans will be a boost for thousands of hardworking staff, while shielding them from any future exploitative actions by rogue businesses.”