Maritime Labour Convention

What is the MLC?

The Maritime Labour Convention (2006) provides comprehensive rights and protection at work for seafarers. The MLC forms the fourth pillar of international maritime regulation together with SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL. The MLC is often referred to as “The Seafarer’s Bill of Rights” and defines the requirements and conditions for the employment of seafarers on commercial yachts. The convention consists of five titles:

  1. Minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship
  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

When did the MLC come into force?

The MLC came into force on 20th August 2013, 12 months after reaching the required milestone of being ratified by 33% of the world’s gross tonnage and 30 countries. In January 2017, the first amendments of the MLC were launched.

Who does the MLC apply to?

The MLC applies to vessels ordinarily engaged in trade (Commercial Yachts) operating under the flag of a country that has ratified the MLC, or if the vessel is operating in the waters of a country that has ratified the MLC. The Convention does not apply to:

  1. ships which navigate exclusively in inland waters or waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply;
  2. ships engaged in fishing;
  3. ships of traditional build such as dhows and junks;
  4. warships or naval auxiliaries.

Pleasure Yachts are not subject to the MLC unless they choose to voluntarily comply with the convention.

Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)

Sarnia Yachts are audited annually by Lloyds Register and registered with the States of Guernsey to provide MLC-compliant employment and payroll services to any yacht requiring dedicated support.

These services can be provided to owners of yachts flagged in a wide range of jurisdictions. We have pre-approved Seafarer Employment Agreements (SEAs) for most flag states and can offer initial and ongoing MLC support if required.

Safe Manning Review, Assessment and Monitoring

As part of our crew employment and payroll service we undertake a full assessment of each yacht’s safe manning requirements and cross check these against the current qualifications held by the crew. Sarnia Yachts will prepare a report for the owner, along with any recommendations to ensure all safe manning requirements are met.

What are my rights as a seafarer?

Each country ratifying the MLC must ensure its legislation meets or exceeds the minimum requirements set out in the text of the MLC. The maritime administration of each ratifying country will usually produce clear guidance and regulations for employers and seafarers to understand their rights under the MLC and flag state’s legislation.

An MLC compliant Seafarer Employment Agreement (“SEA”) will detail the most common rights applicable to seafarers and employers.

Copies of the MLC text and other MLC related procedures and regulations should be made available for seafarers to read on-board. Copies may also be downloaded from our website here:

A few points to note about the MLC:

  • The minimum age to work as a seafarer on-board is 16 years, but employers may often insist on 18 years as a minimum age.
  • A valid medical fitness certificate must be held by the seafarer prior to joining the yacht.
  • All seafarers must receive a fully signed copy of their seafarer employment agreement.
  • Employment agencies and/or employment businesses must not charge the seafarer when placing or employing the seafarer.
  • Salaries and payslips must be received monthly and wages can be sent to more than one bank account (reasonable bank charges may apply).
  • Seafarers must receive a minimum of 10 hours rest in a 24 hour period and 77 hours in a 7 day period.
  • Food and drinking water must be provided free of charge to seafarers.
  • Medical and essential dental care must be provided free of charge to seafarers, subject to the terms and conditions of their SEA.
  • Repatriation must be provided free of charge to seafarers, subject to the terms and conditions of their SEA.
  • Seafarers must receive financial compensation for sickness, injury or death occurring in connection with their employment or for unemployment due to loss of the vessel, subject to the terms and conditions stated in their SEA and the yacht’s insurance policy limits.

Sarnia Yachts are audited annually by Lloyds Register to ensure MLC-compliant employment and payroll services.

Adam Briggs

Adam Briggs

Yacht Compliance Officer

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