Department for Transport
 
 

Maritime Labour Convention, 2006

Seafarer Employment Agreement

Title 2 : Conditions of Employment regulations 2.1

Purpose : To ensure the seafarer has a fair employment agreement

This page sets out current MCA thinking on what UK shipowners will need to do to comply with the revised UK legislation being prepared following the UK's ratification of the MLC, 2006 on 7 August 2013.

These draft proposals have been discussed and agreed with the Tripartite Working Group (consisting of UK seafarer, shipowner and government representatives) which is advising the MCA on implementation of the Convention.

The purpose of disclosing the draft proposals at this stage is to assist owners of UK ships in their preparations for the MLC coming into force internationally. However, the legislative changes referred to on this page have not yet been made.

Accordingly the draft proposals set out here must not be regarded as final or certain, and shipowners should check final regulations and guidance when issued to identify any changes.

For up-to-date information on the status of legislative changes associated with MLC implementation, check this page regularly.

*** Guidance ONLY ***

1. The terms and conditions for employment of a seafarer shall be set out or referred to in a clear written legally enforceable agreement and shall be consistent with the standards set out in the Code.

2. Seafarers' employment agreements shall be agreed to by the seafarer under conditions which ensure that the seafarer has an opportunity to review and seek advice on the terms and conditions in the agreement and freely accepts them before signing.

3. To the extent compatible with the member's national law and practice, seafarers' employment agreements shall be understood to incorporate any applicable collective bargaining agreements.

Source : Maritime Labour Convention, 2006

Standard A2.1

(1) Each Member shall adopt laws or regulations requiring that ships that fly its flag comply with the following requirements:

  1. seafarers working on ships that fly its flag shall have a seafarers' employment agreement signed by both the seafarer and the shipowner or a representative of the shipwoner (or, where they are not employees, evidence of a contractual or similar arrangements) providing them with decent living and working conditions on board the ship as required by this Convention;
  2. seafarers signing a seafarers' employment agreement shall be given an opportunity to examine and seek advice on the agreement before signing, as well as such other facilities as are necessary to ensure that they have freely entered into an agreement with sufficient understanding of their rights and responsibilities;
  3. the shipowner and seafarer concerned shall each have a signed original of the seafarers' employment agreement;
  4. measures shall be taken to ensure that clear information as to the conditions of their employment can be easily obtained on board by the seafarers, including the ship's master, and that such information, including a copy of the seafarers' employment agreement, is also accessible for review by officers of a competent authority, including those in ports to be visited and
  5. seafarers shall be given a document containing a record of their employment on board the ship.

(2) Where a collective bargaining agreement forms all or part of a seafarers' employment agreement, a copy of that agreement shall be available on board. Where the language of the seafarers' employment agreement and any applicable collective bargaining agreement is not in English, the following shall also be available in English (except for ships engaged only in domestic voyages):

(a) a copy of the standard form of agreement; and

(b) the portions of the collective bargaining agreement that are subject to a port State inspection under Regulation 5.2

(3) The document referred to in paragraph 1 (e) of this Standard shall not contain any statement as to the quality of the seafarers' work or as to their wages. The form of the document, the particulars to be recorded and the manner in which such particulars are to be entered shall be determined by national law.

(4) Each Member shall adopt laws and regulations specifying the matters that are to be included in all seafarers' employment agreements governed by its national law. Seafarers' employment agreement shall in all cases contain the following particulars:

(a) the seafarer's full name, date of birth or age and birthplace;

(b) the shipowner's name and address;

(c) the place where and the date when the seafarers' employment agreement is entered into;

(d) the capacity in which the seafarer is to be employed

(e) the amount of the seafarer's wages or, where applicable, the formula used for calculating them;

(f) the amount of paid annual leave, or where applicable, the formula used for calculating it;

(g) the termination of the agreement and the conditions thereof, including

(i) if the agreement has been made for an indefinite period, the conditions entitling either party to terminate it, as well as the required notice period, which shall be not less for the shipowner than for the seafarer;

(ii) if the agreement has been made for a definite period, the date fixed for its expiry; and

(iii) if the agreement has been made for a voyage, the port of destination and the time which has to expire after arrival before the seafarer should be discharged;

(h) the health and social security protection benefits to be provided to the seafarer by the shipowner;

(i) the seafarers' entitlement to repatriation

(j) reference to the collective bargaining agreement, if applicable; and

(k) any other particulars which national law may require.

(5) Each Member shall adopt laws or regulations establishing minimum notice periods to be given by the seafarers and shipowners for the early termination of a seafarers' employment agreement. The duration of these minimum periods shall be determined after consultation with the shipowners' and the seafarers' organizations concerned but shall not be shorter than seven days.

(6) A notice period shorter than the minimum may be given in circumstances which are recognized under national law or regulations or applicable collective bargaining agreement at shorter notice or without notice. In determining those circumstances, each Member shall ensure that the need of the seafarer to terminate, without penalty, the employment agreement on shorter notice or without notice for compassionate or other urgent reasons is taken into account.

MODEL FORMAT FOR SEAFARER EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT

(November 2013)

PARTICULARS REQUIRED TO BE INCLUDED BY THE MLC

This Agreement is between:-

……………………………………..…….…………………………….(insert Seafarer’s full name)

…………………………………..….........................…….(insert date of birth or age (see Note 1)

…………………………………………….…….…..…….(insert place of birth – town and country)

AND

...................................................................................................(insert Shipowner’s name)

OF..............................................................................................(insert Shipowner’s full address)

AND* (where the shipowner is not the actual employer of the seafarer) (see Note 2)

..........................................................................................(insert Employer's name)

OF ..............................................................................................(insert Employer's address)

Capacity in which seafarer is to be employed

The capacity in which you are initially employed is ………………………..…....................... (insert capacity)(see Note 3)

Place of Work

You will be employed on …………………………………………………..……………..(see Note 4)

Wages

Your wages will be ………………………………………..… (insert amount and currency) per week*/month*/year* (delete as appropriate) or formula for determining wages (see Note 5)

Means of payment of Wages

Your wages will be payable by……………………………. [insert method of payment] at weekly*/monthly* (delete as appropriate) intervals on the ……………….[insert number] day of each ………….. week*/month* (delete as appropriate)

[Overtime hours i.e. hours worked outside of normal working hours will be paid at a rate of …………………………(insert overtime rate] (Delete this sentence if not applicable)

Paid Annual Leave

You are entitled to take ………….(insert number) (see Note 6) working days as paid leave in each year of employment.

If your employment commenced or terminates part way through the holiday year, your entitlement to paid annual leave will be assessed on a pro rata basis. Deductions from final salary due to you on termination of employment will be made in respect of any paid annual leave taken in excess of your entitlement.

There is no provision for the carry over of paid annual leave from one year to the next. All paid annual leave must be taken in the year in which it accrues. There is also no provision for payment to be made in lieu of untaken leave except where paid annual leave has accrued but has not been taken at the date of termination of employment.

Notice of Termination of Employment  (Delete whichever is not applicable) (See Note 7)

Definite Period Agreement

Your employment is for a period commencing on …………[insert date] and ending on …………….. [insert date] unless it is terminated for justified reasons in advance of this point or  the ship is at sea at that point time in which event it will continue until its arrival in port at which point it will terminate,

OR

Indefinite Agreement

The length of notice which you are obliged to give to terminate your employment is [insert notice period which is to be not less than seven days].

The length of notice which you are entitled to receive from the shipowner to terminate your employment is [insert notice period which is to be not less than seven days].

OR

Voyage Agreement

Your employment is for the length of the voyage of [ship] commencing on …………[insert date] from the port of……………………….[insert name of port] until …………………[insert date] or the vessel' arrival in the port of ……………….[insert name of port]] at which point it will terminate, unless it is terminated for justified reasons in advance of this point.

Health and Social Security Benefits (see Notes 8 and 9)

If you become sick or injured whilst on a voyage, you will be paid your normal basic wages until you have been repatriated in accordance with the repatriation provisions set out below. After you have been repatriated you will be paid ……………….per cent .[insert number]  of your normal basic wages up to a maximum of ………………………….weeks .[insert number which shall be 16 or above] less the amount of any Statutory Sick Pay or Social security Sickness Benefit to which you may be entitled for …………………..[insert number] working days in total in any one sick pay year]

If you require medical care while you are on-board this will be provided free of charge, including access to necessary medicines, medical equipment and facilities for diagnosis and treatment and medical information and expertise. Where practicable and appropriate, you will be given leave to visit a qualified medical doctor or dentists in ports of call for the purpose of obtaining treatment.

In the event of sickness or incapacity, you will be provided with medical care, including medical treatment and the supply of necessary medicines and therapeutic devices and board and lodging away from home until your recovery or until your sickness or incapacity has been declared of a permanent character, subject to a maximum period of……………weeks[insert number which shall be 16 or above]. In addition the shipowner will meet the cost of the return of your property left on board to you or your next of kin.

In the event of your death occurring on board or ashore during a voyage, the shipowner will meet the cost of burial expenses, or cremation where appropriate or required by local legislation, and the return of your property left on board to your next of kin.

Repatriation (see Note 10)

You will be entitled to repatriation, at the expense of the shipowner, if you are away from your country of residence when this agreement is terminated:-

  • by the shipowner

  • by you in the event of illness or injury or other medical condition requiring your repatriation, the event that the ship is proceeding to a Warlike Operations Area or the event of termination or interruption of employment in accordance with an industrial award or collective agreement.

  • in circumstances where you are no longer able to carry out your duties under this agreement or cannot be expected to do so e.g. shipwreck, the sale of your ship or a change in your ship’s registration.

The entitlement to repatriation entails transport by …………………(insert means of transport) to...............................................(insert place name or country).:

NOTE - You may not be entitled to repatriation at the expense of the shipowner in circumstances where you have been dismissed on disciplinary grounds or have breached your obligations under this Agreement. In such circumstances the shipowner will still be liable to repatriate you but is entitled to recover from any wages due to you the cost of doing so.

Maximum duration of service periods after which you are entitled to repatriation

The maximum period of service following which you will be entitled to repatriation at no cost to you is ……………….weeks (insert number of weeks) (See Note 11)

Applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement(s)(delete if not applicable)(see Note 12)

You employment will also be subject to the Collective Bargaining Agreement(s) entered into on…………………………………………………………(insert date(s)) between the shipowner and ……………………………………………..(insert details of the other parties to the collective bargaining agreement(s)) except that where any provision(s) of such collective bargaining agreement(s) conflicts with International  or UK law such provision(s) shall not apply to your employment under this Agreement.

ADDITIONAL PARTICULARS REQUIRED TO BE INCLUDED BY THE UNITED KINGDOM LAW

Hours of Work (see Note 13)

Your normal hours of work are from ……………..[insert time] to ……………..[insert time] on …………………………[insert day of week] to ……………………[insert day of week] inclusive.

Your hours of work will be arranged such as to ensure that you receive a minimum of 10 hours available for rest in each 24-hour period and a minimum of 77 hours rest in each seven-day period. This minimum period of rest may not be reduced below 10 hours except in an emergency.

You may be required, at the absolute discretion of the Master, to work additional hours during an emergency affecting the safety of the ship, its passengers, crew or cargo or the marine environment or to give assistance to other ships or persons in peril. You may also be required to work additional hours for safety drills such as musters, fire-fighting and lifeboat drills. In such circumstances you will be provided subsequently with (a) compensatory rest period(s).

Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures

(a) Grievances

If you have a grievance regarding your employment you should follow the shipowner’s grievance procedure a copy of which will be provided to you when you join the vessel.

(b) Disciplinary Rules and Procedure

The disciplinary rules applicable to you are set out in the:

  • Code of Conduct for the Merchant Navy, which has been agreed between the Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus International and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers; or

  • the shipowner’s Code of Conduct .

(Delete as necessary)

If you are dissatisfied with any disciplinary decision taken in relation to you, you should refer to the disciplinary procedure set out in the Code of Conduct which  can  be obtained from ………………..[state from where Code of Conduct can be obtained].

Pension benefits (Delete which ever is not applicable) (see Note 14)

You will be entitled to the following pension or other benefits ………………….(insert full details including whether contributory (if so at what rate(s)) or non-contributory and when payable etc).

OR

You will be entitled to join the ……………………….pension scheme (insert details

OR

There is no pension or other benefit entitlement attached to this employment.

Compensation in respect of loss of personal property as a result of the loss or foundering of the vessel

Where you lose personal property, as a result of  the vessel on which you are serving foundering or being lost,  the shipowner will pay compensation up to a maximum of …………. (insert amount).

ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS INCLUDED BY SHIPOWNER

(See Note 15)

Signature of Seafarer …………………………......................………………….………………

Signature of Shipowner or Shipowner’s representative …………………………….. ……… (State position held)

Place where this Agreement is entered into ………………………..…………………………… (see Note 16)

Date when this Agreement is entered into ……………………………..……………………......

NOTES

Note 1 - “insert date of birth or age” - Normally the date of birth should be inserted in full. Only in exceptional circumstances should the seafarer’s “age” be inserted. This should be the seafarer’s age at the time the SEA was signed and should be inserted only where there is no means of establishing the seafarer’s actual date of birth e.g. because the seafarer comes from a country where birth records are not accurate or for various reasons no longer exist and the seafarer himself does not know his actual date of birth.

Note 2 - "Name and address of Employer" Whilst the SEA is primarily between the shipowner and seafarer, there will be some instances where the shipowner is not the actual employer of the seafarer. Where this is the case the name and address of the actual employer should also be inserted. If the shipowner is the employer of the seafarer this entry can be deleted.

Note 3 - “Capacity in which seafarer is to be employed” - This will be the capacity in which the seafarer is to be employed at the time the SEA is signed by the parties to it. Given that an SEA may run for a considerable length of time if the seafarer remains with the same shipowner, it is possible that the capacity in which the seafarer is employed could change over time. The shipowner may wish to consider whether a new SEA will be issued at such time or alternatively include a provision indicating how any changes to capacity will be dealt with e.g. by means of a letter setting out the new capacity and the relevant wage scale.

Note 4 – “Place of Work” should state either the name of the vessel on which the Seafarer is to be employed where this is known or may state that “Place of Work may be on any vessel owned, managed or chartered by the shipowner.” where the seafarer may be employed on more than one vessel.

Note 5 - Wages - As with “Capacity” (Note 3 above) wages payable to the seafarer are likely to change if employed by the same shipowner over a significant period of time. When completing the “Wages” entry in the SEA, the shipowner will therefore need to bear this in mind and include appropriate wording to cover any future wage increases e.g. by providing for the wage to increase as notified to the seafarer in writing.

Note 6 –“Paid Annual Leave” - The period of paid annual leave must be not less than that specified in the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 Standard A2.4. Where it is more appropriate to do so, the formula to be used for calculating annual leave, e.g. 2.5 days per month of employment, may be inserted instead of an actual number of days.

Note 7 - Notice of Termination of Employment - The period of notice required to be given to the seafarer by the shipowner must not be less than that required to be given to the shipowner by the seafarer and, except in the case of a fixed term or voyage agreement, must be not less than seven days.

Note 8 - Health and Social Security Benefits - On a UK registered vessel the provision of medical care includes any surgical or medical treatment or such dental or optical treatment (including the repair or replacement of any appliance) as cannot be postponed without impairing efficiency.

Note 9 - Social Security Benefits - These include payment by the shipowner of any costs incurred in respect of any sickness or injury occurring between the date on which they commenced duty on board a ship and the date on which they are deemed to have been duly repatriated. This also includes payments that shipowners are required to make in respect of the death or long term disability of a seafarer due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard occurring while the seafarer is serving under a seafarer’s employment agreement or arising from their employment under such agreement. Where appropriate, account should also be taken of all current UK legislation governing health and social security protection benefits and the SEA should specify what, if any social security contributions are being made by the shipowner on the seafarer’s behalf and to which administration. If no contributions are being made, the SEA should state should state that the seafarer should make their own arrangements to pay social security contributions where appropriate.

Where appropriate it is recommended that details also be included of any entitlement to other benefits (e.g. State Sickness Benefit, State Maternity Benefit etc) to which a seafarer will be entitled and the level of seafarer contribution, if any, towards such benefits.

Note 10 - Repatriation - The terms and conditions governing entitlement or otherwise to repatriation for seafarers employed on UK registered vessels will be set out in new regulations amending the Merchant Shipping (Repatriation) Regulations 1979 to fully comply with Regulation 2.5 and Standard A2.5 of the Maritime Labour Convention. The destination for repatriation must be one of the following:

  • the place where the seafarer signed their employment agreement;
  • their country of residence;
  • the place specified in any applicable collective agreement; or,
  • subject to the agreement of the shipowner, another place of the seafarer's choosing.

Note 11- Maximum duration of service periods after which you are entitled to repatriation

The maximum period of service following which a seafarer will be entitled to repatriation is to be not more than 52 weeks minus the period of statutory paid annual leave - see note 5.

Note 12 - Applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement(s) - Seafarers Employment Agreements may, where applicable, incorporate any applicable collective bargaining agreements. Therefore the terms and conditions contained in a collective bargaining agreement should be appended to, or incorporated by reference into, and thus form part of a Seafarer Employment Agreement. Collective bargaining Agreements  may not however be substituted entirely for  individual Seafarer Employment Agreements in respect of seafarers employed on UK registered vessels.

It should also be noted that in the event of any conflict between the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement and UK general or merchant shipping legislation, the relevant UK legislation will prevail.

Note 13 - Hours of Work - The hours of work for seafarers employed on UK registered vessels must comply with the requirements of the Merchant Shipping (Hours of Work) Regulations 2002 (as amended) or any subsequent Regulations which may further amend or replace those Regulations.

Note 14 - Pension benefits - Where appropriate it is recommended that details also be included of any entitlement to additional pension benefits (e.g. State Pension) to which a seafarer will be entitled and the level of seafarer contribution, if any, towards such benefits.

Note 15 – “Inclusion of Additional Provisions by Shipowner” – It is recognised that there will be occasions on which shipowners wish to include provisions additional to those set out in the Maritime Labour Convention. There is no objection to the inclusion of such additional provisions however any such provisions must not conflict with the provisions of UK general or merchant shipping legislation or any international instruments which have been ratified by the United Kingdom. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will not be checking and approving additional provisions, as it currently does for crew agreements, and it will therefore be the responsibility of the shipowner to ensure that there is no conflict. Failure to do so may result in refusal to issue a Maritime Labour Certificate or its cancellation if one has already been issued.

In the context of non compliance, some provisions have previously been found in crew agreements which, if included in Seafarer Employment Agreements, could result in refusal to issue, or cancellation of, a Maritime Labour Certificate. Examples of these, which would apply also to Seafarer Employment Agreements, include:-

  • requiring that all seafarers belong to a union – Under UK law there is no obligation on any worker to belong to a union.

  • requiring that seafarers join a specified union - Apart from the previous provision regarding choice on whether or not to join a union, such a provision would also conflict with the International Labour Organisation Convention on Freedom of Association. This Convention has been ratified by the UK and provides that workers shall be free to form and join organisations of their own choosing.

  • requiring that by signing the agreement seafarers automatically agree to medical information about themselves being passed to the shipowner or another party acting on behalf of the shipowner. - This is not acceptable and may only be done with the specific prior authority of the seafarer on each occasion the shipowner requests that such information be made available.

  • requiring that by signing the agreement seafarers automatically agree to sensitive personal data (as defined in the Data Protection Act) about them being passed to other individuals or organizations as determined appropriate by the shipowner or another party acting on behalf of the shipowner. - This also is not acceptable as such individuals/organisations may potentially be located in countries that do not have data protection legislation or have legislation that does not provide similar protection to that of the UK. Such transfer of “sensitive personal information” may only be undertaken with the specific prior authority of the seafarer on each occasion the shipowner proposes that such information be passed to another individual or organisation.

  • requiring that a seafarer bear the cost of his repatriation, and the cost of providing his replacement, should he terminate his employment prior to completing the specified period of employment even though he gave the period of notice to terminate his employment that was required by the agreement. - Under UK legislation a seafarer can only be charged the cost of his repatriation if he has breached his obligations under the agreement or has been dismissed on disciplinary grounds. The giving of the period of notice specified in the agreement would not constitute breach of the seafarer’s obligations even if it terminated his employment before the date envisaged in the agreement.

  • requiring payment, or deduction of wages for items which UK legislation requires to be provided free of charge for example accommodation, food and catering, provision of personal protective equipment, medical care. The Wages Regulations applicable to seafarers only permit certain specified deductions to be automatically wages due to a seafarer. These specified deductions do not include costs incurred in providing accommodation, food and catering, personal protective equipment and medical care to seafarers.

  • the levying of fines on a seafarer by a shipowner in respect of breaches of that seafarer's obligation under his SEA or for breaches of discipline. No provision exists under UK Merchant Shipping law for fines to be levied on seafarers by shipowners.

This list is illustrative only and should not be taken as listing all provisions that would be considered unacceptable.

Note 16 – “The Place where Agreement is entered into” should state the name of village, town or city and country where Agreement is signed by the parties to it