The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) has now come into force and will govern the construction and operation of all yachts engaged in commercial activity. But far from being a draconian piece of legislation that will negatively impact owners’ enjoyment of their vessels, MLC is intended to empower crewmembers and ensure that they conduct their jobs with the same degree of confidence and professionalism as their shoreside counterparts.

So, although owners should not fear its imposition, it will signal a number of changes to onboard procedures that they should be aware of…

1.    The Seafarers Employment Agreement

The Seafarers Employment Agreement (SEA) will become the de facto document for the employment of superyacht crew. SEAs must be easily understandable, devoid of too much legal jargon, and clearly outlining considerations such as annual leave, hours of work and rest, health and safety procedures, remuneration and complaint procedures.

2.    Wages, social security and repatriation

A yacht’s owner will now be obligated to provide repatriation to their crew. The crewmember will be entitled to 2.5 days of annual leave per month, excluding public holidays, which must be awarded based on their nationality. Sick leave must be treated distinctly from holidays. Wages have to be paid regularly and consistently, and this is evidenced in the form of payslips.   

3.    Hours of work and rest

Under the terms of the MLC a crewmember is entitled to 10 hours of rest in every 24. A port state control inspector will be looking for evidence that appropriate breaks are being observed, and this is where the on board complaints procedure is expected to empower crewmembers who are having this right revoked.

4.    Recruitment requirements

Recruiting dayworkers and dockwalkers to tick off odd jobs and temp work when in port is a popular pastime among superyacht owners. But alas, no more, or at least not in the same way as is historically the case. Anyone who comes aboard for commercial reasons, including temps, will need to sign a temporary employment contract, which confirms their status as a non-seafarer who is only working when the vessel is stationary in port.

For the full story, see Issue 9 of The Superyacht Owner, out now. Members can read the issue online here.