The Risks of Being a Maritime Employee: Maintenance and Cure

Anyone who has any experience on the open sea knows that there are a significant number of risks associated with this line of work. The ocean is a hazardous place and the currents can redirect any ship at any time. If the electrical equipment goes out then the ship could be navigating the oceans blind. A storm can whip up at any time and remind people that the ocean is in charge. People who work on the open water are at a great risk for getting injured or sick on the job. If they are, this can lead to missed work and a substantial loss of income. Fortunately, there is a way for seamen to recoup their losses from their employer following a policy called maintenance and cure. Maintenance and cure are two different things and it is vital the people understand this difference should they ever need assistance.


Maintenance is the term used to refer to people’s living expenses. This includes mortgage payments, gas, rent, utility bills, groceries, and any other living expenses that people incur on a day to day basis. Many people take their income for granted and don’t realize what their daily living expenses are until the income is gone. If people are injured or sick and cannot work, maintenance is the policy that kicks in to ensure that people have the money they need to keep their lives moving on a daily basis. The amount of maintenance that people get is up for discussion and should be handled prior to starting any job. Be sure to discuss this with the employer.


Cure is something different from maintenance and is the term used to describe people’s medical bills. If someone gets sick or injured on the job, they could be forced to pay a significant amount in medical expenses especially if they require a surgical procedure or a stay in the intensive care unit. Medical bills pile up quicker than anyone could possibly imagine and can quickly place an individual or family under a significant amount of financial stress. Fortunately for seamen, most maritime employers will provide something called cure to their employees. These are funds that are used to help pay for people’s living expenses should they ever need them. Make sure that the provisions and circumstances that cause cure to kick in are discussed prior to starting employment.

Everyone knows that a career on the high seas comes with a substantial amount of risk. Fortunately, there are provisions in place to protect employees against missing work due to sickness or injury. It is important that people understand their rights prior to starting work.

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Jovany Maxwell