46 U.S. Code § 10504 - Wages

§ 10504.
After the beginning of a voyage, a seaman is entitled to receive from the master, on demand, one-half of the balance of wages earned and unpaid at each port at which the vessel loads or delivers cargo during the voyage. A demand may not be made before the expiration of 5 days from the beginning of the voyage, not more than once in 5 days, and not more than once in the same port on the same entry. If a master does not comply with this subsection, the seaman is released from the agreement required by section 10502 of this title and is entitled to payment of all wages earned. Notwithstanding a release signed by a seaman under section 10312 of this title, a court having jurisdiction may set aside, for good cause shown, the release and take action that justice requires. This subsection does not apply to a fishing or whaling vessel or a yacht.
The master shall pay a seaman the balance of wages due the seaman within 2 days after the termination of the agreement required by section 10502 of this title or when the seaman is discharged, whichever is earlier.
Subject to subsection (d), and except as provided in paragraph (2), when payment is not made as provided under subsection (b) of this section without sufficient cause, the master or owner shall pay to the seaman 2 days’ wages for each day payment is delayed.
The total amount required to be paid under paragraph (1) with respect to all claims in a class action suit by seamen on a passenger vessel capable of carrying more than 500 passengers for wages under this section against a vessel master, owner, or operator or the employer of the seamen shall not exceed ten times the unpaid wages that are the subject of the claims.
(3) A class action suit for wages under this subsection must be commenced within three years after the later of—
the date of the end of the last voyage for which the wages are claimed; or
the receipt, by a seaman who is a claimant in the suit, of a payment of wages that are the subject of the suit that is made in the ordinary course of employment.
(d) Subsections (b) and (c) of this section do not apply to:
a vessel engaged in coastwise commerce.
a yacht.
a fishing vessel.
a whaling vessel.
This section applies to a seaman on a foreign vessel when in harbor of the United States. The courts are available to the seaman for the enforcement of this section.
(f)Deposits in Seaman Account.—On written request signed by the seaman, a seaman employed on a passenger vessel capable of carrying more than 500 passengers may authorize, the master, owner, or operator of the vessel, or the employer of the seaman, to make deposits of wages of the seaman into a checking, savings, investment, or retirement account, or other account to secure a payroll or debit card for the seaman if—
the wages designated by the seaman for such deposit are deposited in a United States or international financial institution designated by the seaman;
such deposits in the financial institution are fully guaranteed under commonly accepted international standards by the government of the country in which the financial institution is licensed;
a written wage statement or pay stub, including an accounting of any direct deposit, is delivered to the seaman no less often than monthly; and
while on board the vessel on which the seaman is employed, the seaman is able to arrange for withdrawal of all funds on deposit in the account in which the wages are deposited.

Historical and Revision Notes

Revised section

Source section (U.S. Code)





Section 10504 specifies when seamen on coastwise voyages may obtain portions of their wages. The section does not apply to fishing vessels, whaling vessels or yachts, and portions of it do not apply to vessels taking oysters. It does apply to foreign vessels while in United States ports.


2010—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 111–281, § 902(b)(1), designated existing provisions as par. (1), substituted “Subject to subsection (d), and except as provided in paragraph (2), when” for “When”, and added pars. (2) and (3).

Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 111–281, § 902(b)(2), added subsec. (f).

1986—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 99–640, § 10(b)(4), struck out last sentence which read as follows: “However, this subsection applies to a vessel taking oysters.”

Subsec. (d)(3). Pub. L. 99–640, § 10(b)(5), struck out “(except a vessel taking oysters)” after “vessel”.

1985—Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 99–36 amended subsec. (d) generally, thereby including reference to a vessel engaged in coastwise commerce.

Effective Date of 1985 Amendment

Pub. L. 99–36, § 1(b), May 15, 1985, 99 Stat. 68, provided that:

“The effective date of subsection (a)(5) of this section [amending this section] is August 26, 1983.”


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