Editor’s note: The full article first appeared in OCEAN Management's Pilot Magazine, Issue 15. It has been edited for style and length. Here is part 1 of 2, reprinted with permission.
By Keith Oulds, Ocean Management’s Compliance Manager
On August 21, 2013 the requirements introduced by the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) come into force. MLC will affect all commercial shipping, including commercial yachts. While yachts under 200 gross tons may not have to comply with all the MLC requirements, this decision has been left up to the yacht’s relevant flag state.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) created MLC to consolidate and update over 65 existing international labor standards that related to seafarers and improve standards for seafarers’ protection and work conditions. This new convention also intends to enforce existing regulations for accommodation and recreational facilities.
While commercial yachts built prior to the MLC implementation will be exempt from MLC regulations as far as their crew accommodation and recreational facilities are concerned, yachts being built after August 20, 2013 will have to comply. These mandates include a minimum size requirement of 7 square meters (75.4 square feet) for shared crew cabins; the obligation to provide individual lockers (larger than 500L), a desk, bunks greater than 198cm by 80cm (31 feet 3 inches x 78 inches) and comfortable seating accommodations.
The MLC also addresses crew contracts, wages and hours. In order for a yacht to become MLC-certified, each of its crewmember will need to sign the original of a new flag state-approved crew contract, agreed to by the owner or manager. This is a major change. These contracts will supersede any existing employment contracts. The MLC rules require that the captain and/or employer give the crewmember enough time to review and take advice on the agreement’s content and conditions before he or she signs it.
A related topic to contracts is the matter of employment agencies. The MLC will require that all crew have access to efficient and well-regulated seafarer recruitment and placement systems provided by companies that are also MLC-certified.
Crew wages will be paid at monthly intervals and the employer will have to provide a monthly account or pay slip. Additionally, the employer will need to provide options for the crew to make allotments so that they can transmit all or part of their earnings to their dependents or legal beneficiaries.
The convention also addresses the workweek and rest periods. The seven-day workweek will include a maximum of 72 hours and a minimum rest of 10 hours in every 24-hour period. It is up to the employer to be sure that all adhere to this schedule.
Check back with us next issue for others requirements under the MLC.