Seafaring work has long been thought of as a male profession. To a certain extent, that is still true. Although women are increasingly finding their way into maritime work, they still make up less than two percent of all seafaring professionals.
However, just because women are in the minority doesn’t mean they don’t have rights. Like men, female mariners have a right to fair wages, a safe working environment that minimizes the risk of maritime accidents and to equal protection under the law. In addition, women mariners are entitled to certain protections if they become pregnant.
Below is an overview of some important rights of which every female mariner should be aware.
Wages and working conditions: Just like male employees, women are allowed to work a maximum of 14 hours in a 24 hour period. They are entitled to the same working conditions and minimum wage laws that apply to male seafarers. In addition, they have a right to unionize to uphold these protections.
Equal protection: Women have equal rights with regard to duties, living and working facilities and education. Women cannot be denied a position on ship simply because of their gender. They also have a right to be free from harassment. In addition to being illegal, sexual harassment creates an unstable and unproductive working environment that puts all employees at risk of injury.
Pregnancy: Women mariners are protected by the pregnancy leave laws of the country in which their ship is registered. In addition, women working under an International Transport Workers’ Federation have a right not to be exposed to noxious gas or any other hazardous condition that may affect the health of their fetus. They are also entitled to re-employment after a maternity leave.
Women who are concerned about safety or employment conditions on their ship may want to discuss these issues with their union representative. Women who are injured in seafaring accidents have a right to seek legal recourse and should talk to an experienced maritime lawyer who can help them understand their options.