Ever since it was announced as part of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC), hours of work and rest, in the context of superyachts, has been a contentious topic.
The general consensus: it’s simply not doable in the superyacht industry. We know that crew lie about their hours of rest and that, unfortunately, this is sometimes even encouraged by captains. We also know that the crew, captain, owner and charter clients are all guilty of pushing for more charters, for their own respective reasons, which, in turn, often means that in a week-long period crew are unlikely to meet their allocated hours of rest (10 hours in a 24-hour period or 77 hours in a seven-day period).
But there’s only so much use in our repeating that this particular aspect of the convention isn’t applicable to the superyacht industry. It’s the law, and despite many people’s attempts, there’s no way to get around it.
One obvious option in lessening the workload of these arguably overworked crew is to get more crewmembers on board, but, yet again the MLC has created another (potential) problem. We need more crew to continue to offer the high-end service owners and charter guests expect, but MLC regulations for crew living spaces, which point to the Large Yacht Code (LY3), require more space for crewmembers and fewer crewmembers in a cabin, which, in turn, makes getting additional crewmembers on board very tricky.
It looks to me like we’ve ended up in a vicious circle, where the law requires more crew to do the job, but we don’t have the space to keep these crewmembers on board. So what does this mean? The ‘dayworker’ option isn’t really feasible when we’re looking at week-long charters, because where would they sleep?
The responsibility, as ever, comes down to the captain – another heavy burden that comes with reaching the top of the ladder. But, as Heidi Watson, employment partner at Clyde & Co. points out, as long as a captain has made clear to the yacht manager that the current crew complement is unable to meet the hours of rest requirements if they are to provide the expected level of service, he or she as the captain and as an individual is unlikely to be liable for breach of the MLC.
Yet the regulations still leave us in a less than ideal place, and it’s down to those of you on board to give the wider industry an idea of what’s actually feasible. How do you suggest the superyacht industry deals with the ‘hours of rest-not enough bunks’ vicious circle?
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