ZUS for seafarers – Tripartite Group meeting at the Ministry of Family and Social Policy

On 31 May 2023, a meeting of the Tripartite Group on Shipping and Sea Fisheries was held at the Ministry of Family and Social Policy devoted to the development of a law on the insurance of Polish seafarers working for shipowners whose activity is registered in EU countries. This is an extremely important piece of legislation that the entire Polish seafarers’ community has been waiting for.

Talks on regulating the social insurance of Polish seafarers have been going on for years, but so far they have failed to produce concrete results. So far, these regulations have been linked to the issue of restoring the white and red flag on the ships of Polish shipowners, which would be a complicated and lengthy process for many reasons. It turns out, however, that this problem can be solved directly, without getting involved in register changes.

Social security matters are currently regulated in different ways by individual employers affiliated to the Polish Shipowners’ Association, but ZAP – like the trade union community – expects a systemic solution. Such a solution would be the adoption of a law on this matter by the Polish Parliament.

It is worth remembering that in the matter of seafarers’ social insurance, the European Union has adopted a relevant regulation. It is the one most often cited by trade unions in talks with shipowners and the government.

The Polish Shipowners’ Association also sees the need to apply the EU solutions to the Polish state as soon as possible, however, it expects that it will not only apply to seafarers employed by Polish shipping companies, but will have a much broader dimension and will apply to Polish seafarers working for any employer whose activity is registered in the European Union.  The Polish law is therefore expected to be in line with the EU law and to affect tens of thousands of Polish seafarers employed by EU employers.

Talks held so far within the Tripartite Group and concerning the issue of seafarers’ social insurance were attended by representatives of the Ministry of Infrastructure, as the ministry responsible for maritime economy. The May meeting was organised, not coincidentally, at the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, as the employers’ and trade unions’ sides recognised the necessity of including this ministry in the work. This is justified by the position expressed by the Polish Shipowners’ Association, which says that every Polish seafarer, regardless of which EU shipowner he works for, should have his insurance contributions paid to The Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) and receive a polish pension.