It’s been 10 years since Equiom Marine and Aviation Services (EMAS) opened its doors. The dedicated team of crewing specialists have come a long way since 2009. Scott Le Cornu, Head of Equiom’s crewing services, talks about how the business has grown from its beginnings to employing more than 1200 crew members today.
Tell us about Equiom's crewing services?
Based in Jersey, we are a team of 10, responsible for carrying out activities related to the employment of seafarers and air crew, including payroll, contracting, employee insurance, social security, crew compliance and qualification requirements. This can be for crew on board a charter or private yacht, a cruise ship or even an aircraft. It’s a demanding job that requires always staying ahead of changes in legislation and keeping on top of the payroll for crew on over 100 vessels. Our team has more than 60 years of combined experience in the maritime sector, some with payroll and HR experience and others with a background in maritime or aviation related fields.
What are some of your biggest milestones since you started?
Having started out with just two employees looking after 35 crew members, we have certainly come a long way. What stands out for me is the Lloyds Recruitment and Placement accreditation we received in 2013, which validated our standards as a leading provider in the crew management sector. Shortly after, in 2017, we reached the milestone of 500 crew members employed. At this point, we also looked after a total of 51 yachts and 20 cruise ships. Finally in 2018, we surpassed the 1000 mark for the number of crew members employed and we became one of the largest crewing service providers in Jersey.
What is the best thing about your job and what is the most challenging?
EMAS is run as a small business within the Equiom Group, which means we are involved with all aspects from budgeting to marketing. We have the responsibility to develop and grow the business, which is a rewarding aspect because it allows us to make our own decisions and shape the future of EMAS.
In order to maintain the highest service levels while continuously growing and developing the business, we must keep up to date with changes in international and regional legislation, often introducing new measures to inform and better serve our clients. This is what makes our roles demanding but also enjoyable due to the critical-thinking required to deliver superior solutions.
Perhaps one of our greatest achievements is continuously rising to our biggest challenge of ensuring that all 1200 crew are contracted correctly and paid on time.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry since 2009?
One of the major changes was the introduction of the Marine Labour Convention (MLC’06). This legislation was introduced to protect the welfare of the seafarers on commercially operated vessels. However, many pleasure vessels have also adopted it based on best practice. With the introduction of the MLC’06 we have also seen a significant increase of grievances due to seafarers being better informed of their rights.
Another major change was when the French government issued a decree that affects all seafarers resident in France. The original decree required all French resident seafarers on a non-EU yacht to contribute to ENIM (French Social Insurance System for Seafarers) from 1 July 2017. However, after several appeals and further considerations, there have been many changes to this decree and it is only now that owners and employers can begin taking steps to comply with the requirements.
An interesting trend is the increase in the size of the vessels year on year which has meant dealing with larger crews and more complex salary requirements. One must also mention the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is impacting all industries.
What’s next for EMAS?
With an established presence in Jersey and offering crewing services to a market worldwide, we are looking to expand even further to reach new markets and cater to these increasingly discerning clients. We are also aware of the need to diversify our skills so that we can offer a broader range of services. As crew members become more informed of their rights, it is inevitable that there will be a rise in grievances and claims. This means we will need to become more proficient in mediating and managing disputes. It is an area that we are familiar with and we are recognising as an opportunity to develop these skills to give added value to our clients.
We are also looking to improve efficiencies in our methods of working. Technology is the future and by digitising some of our processes, such as adopting electronic signatures and batch payments, we have the opportunity to eliminate some of the admin time in order to focus on what we do best.
It is set to be another exciting decade for our sector and I look forward to what the future holds for our promising business.