It’s been just over six months since the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) began enforcement for those initial member states who ratified the Convention in August, 2012. Since the Convention’s ratification one and a half years ago, talk surrounding the presented changes has been lengthy, in-depth and ongoing with many in the superyacht sector raising the question of how this next set of commercial-focused regulations would really affect the superyacht industry?

More than six months after implementation, the superyacht industry’s anticipated questions pertaining to the Convention’s true impact on this niche sector can be met with answers. So, what is the level of impact? Seemingly, very little.

The Isle of Man Ship Registry recently published its first MLC Annual Report (despite the Convention’s implementation running for just over six months) in which it announced that of 217 ships inspected under MLC guidelines, 157 had MLC deficiencies. The most common deficiency lay in the realm of the Seafarer Employment Agreement (SEA) – a significant concern for crew – with specific SEA decencies including invalid signatories, lack of provision to the seafarer, lack of provision on board, missing required information and not being in the English language. Interestingly, the SEA was predicted the most problematic area of the convention when the International Transport Federation released its list of the top 10 most frequent deficiencies found on board vessels under MLC requirements in July 2013.

Nonetheless, though 27 of the inspected ships were classified as yachts, the Isle of Man is yet to release any information on the sizes of yachts inspected, nor on the number of yachts to which deficiencies were appropriated.

Has the industry been making a lot of noise about a Convention that will affect the industry very little?

However, John Cook, partner at Lesia Employment Services, believes the Isle of Man’s figures remain an educative tool for the industry as it moves forward and the MLC becomes better established in the yachting landscape. “Whilst it is not yet clear how many yachts were inspected, what is clear is that seventy-two per cent of vessels inspected were found to be deficient; SEAs accounted for thirty per cent the overall number of deficiencies. Evidently employers have not yet got to grips with what needs to go in an SEA and yet all the information is published in the Convention [under Title 2, Regulation 2.1, Standard A2.1, paragraph four].

“We are still only in the first year enforcement with a handful of countries inspecting yachts either as flag or port state,” added Cook. “Later this yea rand next year will provide us with a clearer picture on compliance with the Convention. There is still time for employers to get their house in order and avoid any unnecessary delays in compliance.”

However, given that since the Convention’s ratification the superyacht industry has been jumping at any chance to scaremonger concerning its impact, it would seem equally likely that the industry would jump at any news to suggest the Convention was having any effect on the yachting sector. As such, the little information surrounding its implementation within the yachting sector suggests an equally small level impact. The MLC has been put on a pedestal by the yachting industry, with many hoping it would be the first set of regulations that would manifestly improve the yachting industry, but questions are arising as to whether it is just the latest in a series of commercial regulations with little effect on yachting, and whether the MLC is, in fact, more talk than substance.

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Lesia Employment Services ICC Limited

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