Maritime Labour Convention (2006)

Seafarers' Employment Agreement (SEA)

Read the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)
Maritime and Coastguard Agency

A yacht owner's obligations and the crew's rights are legislated for under the Maritime Labour Convention, adopted in 2006 and in force 7 years later. Consisting of 16 articles containing general provisions for crew, plus a code of 5 titles:

16 provisions for crew:

  1. Working hours in relation to age
  2. Minimum age of crew
  3. Medical certification
  4. Qualification of the seafarer
  5. Employment agreements
  6. Recruitment of crew other than by the yacht owner
  7. Work and rest hours
  8. Manning levels for the vessel
  9. Quality of accommodation
  10. Recreational facilities
  11. Food and catering
  12. Health and safety
  13. Accident prevention
  14. Onboard medical care
  15. Complaints procedure
  16. Salary payment

Code of titles:

  1. Minimum requirement for seafarers to work on a yacht
  2. Conditions of employment
  3. Accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering
  4. Health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection
  5. Compliance and enforcement

A yacht only obtains their MLC certificate when they comply with all the above. So, it is in your interests to check if the yacht you're considering working on is MLC compliant.

Marine Guidance Note (MGN)

The Marine Guidance Note (MGN) outlines the dangers of working on a yacht that is not MLC certified or on a yacht where the flag state has not been ratified by the MLC (basically the same as working on a yacht which isn't MLC compliant).

Some highlights worth noting...

  1. The MGN aims to outline an assured level of protection, rights and entitlements under the MLC, enabling seafarers to make informed decisions whether they choose to work on a yacht registered with a country not ratified by the MLC.
  2. The shipowner is ultimately responsible for meeting MLC requirements.
  3. Documentation is required to clarify standards of living and working conditions onboard.
  4. Flag states required to carry out maritime labour inspections twice every 5 years, ensuring conditions are met, and any seafarer complaints are investigated and resolved.

By working on a non-MLC compliant yacht, you risk:

  1. Not being protected by the Convention's standards on the payment of wages at the rate set out by your SEA, the regularity of payments and statements.
  2. You may be required to work excessive hours and not get the rest and/or leave you're entitled to, resulting in fatigue or compromising the safety of the vessel. The MLC sets down maximum hours of work, minimum hours of rest.
  3. Provision may not be made for the monitoring of work hours, with endorsed record keeping of working hours.
  4. Under the MLC, annual leave entitlement with pay is a minimum of 2.5 calendar days per month of employment. Justified absences from work shall not be considered as annual leave.
  5. The shipowner not paying to repatriate you.
  6. Having to cover the expense of your own repatriation EG: if your employment expires whilst abroad or is terminated by shipowner or you can no longer carry out duties (due to accident or justified reasons).
  7. Not being entitled to compensation in the event of injury, loss or unemployment, following the loss or foundering of the yacht, which the shipowner is obliged to provide under the MLC.
  8. Not enjoying the standards of crew accommodation set down by the MLC, EG: size of rooms, storage space, heating, ventilation, sanitary facilities, lighting and hospital accommodation etc.
  9. Not being provided with food and drinking water, prepared hygienically by qualified persons, to required standards of MLC.
  10. Access to prompt and adequate medical care on board and ashore, which the shipowner is obliged to provide under the MLC.
  11. You may not be protected by the shipowner from the consequences of sickness, injury and death occurring in connection with their employment.
  12. You won't enjoy the benefits of health and safety protection and accident protection.
  13. There may not be approved procedures for logging and investigating complaints.

Seafarers' Employment Agreement (SEA)

REMEMBER Please, please, please make sure you get a copy of your S.E.A. BEFORE you join the yacht.

A Seafarers' Employment Agreement outlines seafarers' rights in an employment contract. Every yacht has a flag at the stern (back) which shows the country from which it's registered (flag state), and whose employment laws it must abide.

For example: if you believe you have been dismissed or treated unfairly, or your SEA has been breached you would have to approach the flag state to confirm MLC legislation and entitlements.

It is vital that you don't join a yacht without a SEA for your own protection.

When you get a position onboard a superyacht you should be supplied with and asked to read and sign a Seafarers' Employment Agreement (SEA).

Seafarers should always get a copy of their SEA before joining a yacht.

Here's a checklist we use to make sure your SEA is compliant with the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)

Once you've landed a job, check your Seafarers' Employment Agreement (SEA) to make sure the yacht you are joining is MLC Compliant.

It is important to note that private yachts are not covered under MLC because they are not "commercial" yachts (yachts available for charter). If joining a commercial yacht, crew must make sure the yacht is MLC compliant.

Yotspot Check List for Seafarers' Employment Agreements (SEA)

Does your SEA state the following?NoYes
Seafarers' details: Full name, date of birth or age, and birthplace?
The ship owner's name and address?
Start date of the employment agreement and the place when it was entered into?
The capacity in which the seafarer is to be employed?
The amount of the seafarers' wages or, where applicable, the formula used to calculate the wages?
The amount of paid annual leave or, where applicable, the formula used to calculate it?
Termination conditions of the agreement including specifying any required minimum notice period (not to be less than 7 days)?
The health and social security protection benefits, to be provided to the seafarer by the ship owner?
The seafarers' entitlement to repatriation?
Reference to any relevant collective bargaining agreement, if applicable?
The appropriate number of hours of work expected in return for the pay and any additional allowances and their circumstances in addition to the consolidated wage?

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