The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has released a Marine Guidance Note, MGN 474 (M), stating that it will no longer be providing the format for crew agreements, and this responsibility will be down to the employer of the vessel's crew.

Following some confusion pertaining to whether the MGN states that private yacht crew must have a Seafarer Employment Agreement (SEA), something only mandatory for commercial yachts that comply with the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC), the industry is understanding the MGN to declare that crew on private yachts will still be subject to crew agreements, rather than SEAs, although the yacht can enforce voluntary SEAs should it desire

Of equal if not more importance to management companies is that the MCA will no longer produce the documentation required for these crew agreements. “In future it will instead be for shipowners/employers to produce such documentation themselves or arrange for its production,” the note clearly states.

The MGN does not leave “shipowners/employers” in the dark, however, and offers detailed information pertaining to necessary facets of the crew agreements. Included is the crewmember’s rate of wages, about which the MGN states, “Provision must be made for the actual rate of wages of a seafarer to be inserted at the time of engagement. [For] more convenient company pay scales or individual agreements with the seafarers, from which this [pay] may be determined, [details] may be annexed to the agreement, however the entry ‘As agreed’ is not acceptable.”

The MCA will no longer produce the documentation required for these crew agreements.

Guidance is also offered on what the MCA terms “non-standard crew agreements”, rather, those provided by employers who do not wish to offer their crew the standard version of a crew agreement or would like to offer a modified version. These are required to be submitted to the MCA no less than 28 days before the agreement is intended to be used. The legalities surrounding “indefinite crew agreements” are also noted.

The move not only highlights the MCA’s desire for raised levels of professionalism, but could be read as encouraging shipowners and employers, who now have to produce their own agreements rather than ‘borrow’ those of the MCA, to take more responsibility for those they are employing.

Download the MGN here.


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