Unfair dismissal is an extensive topic and one that is discussed between many captains in this industry. However, as 2013 comes to a close, here at The Crew Report, rather than merely highlight a problem, we want to continue to offer solutions with a view to aiding the progression of the superyacht crew sector.

In investigating the complex topic of unfair dismissal and some possible resolutions, The Crew Report spoke to one captain, who came up with one particular contractual idea as a solution to unfair dismissal, that would protect captains whose strengthened relationship with their crew can, sometimes, be the cause of more problems when it comes to leaving a yacht.

The idea came about when the captain left one of his recent employments, and he explains: “I went to the crew mess to say goodbye to the crew, to find them grinning, packed and ready to walk off with me – which they did. I was accused, as you might imagine, of instigating this exodus when I had nothing to do with it. But those crew were not prepared to sail without me as their master.”

Regardless of the reasons behind a captain leaving a yacht, the frustrations felt by owners and management companies are crystal clear when we consider one captain’s termination of employment resulting in the loss of a full crew. However, for this captain, this was the result of good on-board mentoring as the crew’s captain. “My crews are hand picked with harmony as my main priority. My approach to running a boat includes, in part, being a father and leader, making my working environment a safe and happy place to be.”

One possible solution that would not put captains in a difficult legal position upon dismissal, while allowing the captain to reap the benefits of compiling a tight-knit and harmonious crew, is that of a legally recognised contractual provision that allows crew to leave upon a captain’s dismissal.

"By paralysing a boat under such circumstances, owners and managers would have to think twice about replacing a captain."

“Such a change in contract law would have to be made or a case tested and, accordingly, special arbitration would have to determine if the captain was dismissed unfairly while other criteria would have to be put in place. For example, a declaration in the crewmember’s contract that the crewmember considers that working under this captain was a condition of accepting the position in the first place. To have such a system has a spin off value. That is to say that by paralysing a boat under such circumstances, owners and managers would have to think twice about replacing a captain… It would serve, finally, as a method whereby good blokes could vindicate themselves if they were dumped for no good professional reason while they have no way of clearing their name in the present.”

Is this the way forward in tackling unfair dismissal? This anonymous presents an interesting idea and one about which, I have no doubt, captains, managers and owners will have their own opinions. Please share your opinions in the comments section below.

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