With effect from the 1st July 2017 professional yacht crew holding a regular and stable residence in France embarked on a vessel flying any flag must be enrolled under the French social security regime or under the social security regime of another EU state or a country that has entered into a reciprocal agreement for social security with France.
The relevant legislation was passed into French law in March, 2017 through ‘Décret no 2017-307’.
A copy of Décret no 2017-307 can be accessed here on our website at the following link:
The new decree is effecting a very large number of yacht crew employed by Oceanskies Crew Limited and Tom Becker, our native French speaker, has since January of this year been in correspondence with the French government and ENIM who are the agency responsible for the collection of social security payments for seafarers in France.
We have also retained the leading law firm of Ince & Co. in Paris to provide us with legal counsel on the subject.
A seminar on the subject of the new decree was organised by the PYA, GEPY and ItalianYachtMasters in Monaco this week at the Monaco Yacht Club. The seminar was important as for the first time representatives from the French government and ENIM were able to come before the members of the yachting industry to explain and mainly defend the new decree.
Tom was present at the seminar and whilst very little new information was gathered in addition to the advice received from ENIM and Ince & Co, and already distributed to our clients, we can nevertheless report on the following key take home messages:
- The French authorities view this decree as an obligation brought about by the ratification of the MLC 2006 and as such each ratifying jurisdiction will need, in due course to adopt similar measures. Importantly, the authorities wish to see the spirit of the MLC 2006 respected and as such the aim of the decree is that of social protection for seafarers.
- We therefore see ‘out of decree’ jurisdiction such as a Guernsey and Jersey (which both have bilateral agreements for social security with France) brought back into the decree as non-locally resident seafarers cannot contribute to that jurisdiction’s social security regime. However, the door seems to also be opening to exempting nationals of ‘out of decree’ jurisdictions from enrolment at ENIM if they contribute to an equivalent social scheme in their equivalent jurisdiction.
- The residence test for yacht crew has changed from 6 months to 3 months although if a crew member lives onboard a foreign flagged yacht that is moored in France this is not classed by ENIM as residence in France.
- There seems little chance of any revocation or suspension of the decree before the 1st July enforcement date although Ince & Co have lodged legal action against the French authorities in order to postpone, amend and block the decree. By their own admission, nothing is certain and we believe a postponement to allow a period of modification is the most likely result.
- The strong sentiment expressed by the representatives of PYA, GEPY and ItalianYachtMasters at the seminar was that no controls would be made by the authorities in 2017 for compliance with this rule. This sentiment was not challenged by any of the government or ENIM representatives. That said a disgruntled French resident seafarer could use the decree to their advantage as penalties for their employer for non-compliance are severe.
For further information please do not hesitate to contact Tom Becker here at Oceanskies: