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The calculation of paid leave under the MLC

The regulations don't specify whether paid leave is calculated based on a five-day or seven-day working week…

In order to ensure that seafarers have adequate leave, the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) outlines that crewmembers working on commercially-registered vessels are entitled to a minimum amount of paid annual leave and shore leave for the benefit of their health and well-being. Under the MLC, the annual leave entitlement is calculated on the basis of 2.5 days for every calendar month of employment. It adds that justified absences from work, such as sickness or attendance to an approved training course, cannot be considered as annual leave.

Since the implementation of the MLC, however, paid leave and the calculation of it has been a subject of disagreement between some superyacht crew and managers. Because of the way the MLC requirements are presented, it can be left open to interpretation as to whether the amount of paid leave that crew should be given is calculated based on a five-day or a seven-day working week.

“The leave issue has become quite a hot topic with crew in the post-MLC age,” says Guy Waddilove, co-founder and company director of 8 Yachts. “The issue is that crew get a pretty generous amount of leave under the MLC, but this is on the basis that crew are working seven days a week as they do on a merchant ship (minus hours of rest leave which normally takes it to six days a week)."

Waddilove continues to explain that the problem is that some crew wish to interpret the regulations as applying to a Monday-to-Friday working week, particularly if a vessel is in an off season or in the yard. “But this would mean that their 30 days a year increases massively,” he explains. “For example, if a crewmember takes a Friday off as leave, all of the next week and then then the following Monday, they would calculate that as seven days leave, whereas it should be calculated as 11 days.”

On the basis that crew are entitled to 2.5 days of annual leave for every calendar month of employment, if weekends were not to be included in the calculation of this, as above, then crew could receive in excess of three weeks’ worth of extra leave each year - a significant increase that could impact the overall operations of the yacht.

As the MLC was written primarily with the commercial shipping industry in mind, which assumes that crew are often at sea for seven days a week, the hardline view taken by 8 Yachts and many other yacht managers is that if crew are away from the boat and not available for watch or on standby, then it should be counted as leave. This is unless their Seafarers’ Employment Agreement states otherwise. However, this does not mean that any weekends not working given to the crew while the boat is having down time will be subtracted from their annual leave quota, simply that if a crewmember takes a period of leave, the weekends should be factored into the number of days of leave taken.

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The calculation of paid leave under the MLC

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