Working at sea – guidance

MLC 2006 titles 1 to 5: regulations, guidance and information

Guidance on the 5 titles of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006, and the regulations applying to UK ships under each one.

Overview

The International Labour Organization (ILO)’s MLC, 2006 provides wide-ranging rights and protection at work for the world’s seafarers.

The MLC:

  • sets minimum global standards for seafarers’ living and working conditions
  • combines and updates more than 68 maritime-related international labour standards, produced over the last 80 years
  • makes it easier for governments and ship owners to apply the system, and provide decent working conditions

The UK ratified (agreed to adopt) the MLC on 7 August 2013, with it coming into force on 7 August 2014.

Marine guidance note (MGN) 471 explains the UK’s understanding of important terms used in the MLC.

How the MLC is organised

There are 3 main parts:

  • articles, which set out the broad principles and responsibilities
  • regulations, which set out the basic requirements
  • the Code, made up of standards (Part A) and guidelines (Part B), which fall into the 5 titles

What the MLC covers

  • Title 1: minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship - age, and medical and training certificates
  • Title 2: conditions of employment – wages, working hours, rest and leave; career development
  • Title 3: seafarers’ accommodation, leisure facilities, and on board catering standards
  • Title 4: health and safety, medical care, access to on-shore welfare facilities
  • Title 5: complaints, inspections, responsibilities of the flag and port states

What the MLC doesn’t cover

The convention doesn’t apply to:

  • ships navigating only in inland waters
  • ships navigating waters in, or close to, sheltered waters - or areas where port regulations apply
  • ships involved in fishing
  • ships of traditional build, such as dhows and junks
  • warships or naval auxiliaries
  • ships not normally used in commercial activities

MLC Statutory Instruments

SI 2014/1613 The Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Minimum Requirements for Seafarers etc.) Regulations 2014 applies to the following titles numbered; 1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1 & 4.2

SI 2014/1614 The Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Consequential and Minor Amendments) Regulations 2014 applies to the following titles numbered; 1.2 & 2.2

SI 2014/1615 The Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Recruitment and Placement) Regulations 2014 applies to title; 1.4

Title 1: minimum requirements to work on a ship

Title 1, regulation 1.1: minimum age

“Purpose: to ensure that no under-age persons work on a ship.” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

Read statutory instrument (SI) 1998/2411: the ‘(Health and Safety at Work) (Employment of Young Persons) Regulations 1998’

MSN 1838 Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Minimum Age

Please note: the application of the minimum age provisions is changing to include all young seafarers, regardless of their employment status.

Title 1, regulation 1.2: medical certificates

“Purpose: to ensure that all seafarers are medically fit to perform their duties at sea.” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

Statutory Instrument 2010/737 is available at www.legislation.gov.uk, and gives guidance on applying the medical certification regulations.

Read ‘Seafarers: medical certification guidance’

Title 1, regulation 1.3: training and qualifications

“Purpose: to ensure that seafarers are trained or qualified to carry out their duties on board ship.” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

Read SI 1997/348: ‘The Merchant Shipping (Training and Certification) Regulations 1997

Refer to the collection of MGNs and MSNs explaining the training requirements necessary for merchant navy officers, ratings, and yacht officers.

Further information

Title 1, regulation 1.4: recruitment and placement

“Purpose: to ensure that seafarers have access to an efficient and well-regulated seafarer recruitment and placement system.” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

MGN 475 Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Recruitment and Placement

MGN 476 gives advice to seafarers about their protection, rights and entitlements under the MLC, 2006. This helps them decide if they should work on a ship registered with a non MLC-ratified country.

List of recruitment and placement agencies with voluntary certificates of conformity

Title 2: conditions of employment

Title 2, regulation 2.1: Seafarers’ Employment Agreements (SEAs)

MGN 477(M) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Seafarers’ Employment Agreements

“Purpose: to ensure seafarers have a fair employment agreement.” (MLC, 2006)

MGN 485 provides guidance on training agreements.

Download and use these model formats as templates for your own documents:

  • outer cover for list of crew and young persons
  • list of crew
  • list of young persons

Use this model format for a seafarer agreement as a basis for your documents:

Model format for seafarer employment agreement (SEA)

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request a different format.

If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email infoline@mcga.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Title 2, regulation 2.2: wages

“Purpose: to ensure seafarers are paid for their services.” (MLC, 2006)

Guidance

MGN 478(M) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Seafarer’s Wages

Title 2, regulation 2.3: hours of work and rest, and 2.4: entitlement to leave

“Purpose: to ensure that seafarers have regulated hours of work, or hours of rest”, and “…to ensure that seafarers have adequate leave.” (MLC, 2006).

Regulations and guidance

SI 2002/2125 Merchant Shipping (Hours of Work) Regulations have been amended by:

MSN 1842 gives information about applying the regulations to do with seafarers’ hours of work and entitlement to leave.

Title 2, regulation 2.5: repatriation

“Purpose: to ensure that seafarers are able to return home.” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

Section 73 of the Merchant Shipping Act outlines the provisions for relief, repatriation, and relief costs.

MGN 479(M) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Repatriation

Title 2, regulation 2.6: seafarer compensation for the ship’s loss or foundering

“Purpose: to ensure that seafarers are compensated when a ship is lost or foundered” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

Section 38 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 gives further information about the right (or loss of the right) to seafarers’ or masters’ wages in certain situations.

Title 2, regulation 2.7: manning levels

“Purpose: to ensure that seafarers work on board ships with sufficient personnel for the safe, efficient and secure operation of the ship/” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

SI 1997/1320: ‘The (Safe Manning, Hours of Work and Watchkeeping) Regulations 1997’, except regulations 6 to 10.

Read MSN 1767 for information and guidance on the 1997 Regulations about safe manning, hours of work, and watchkeeping.

Please note: for hours of work, the 1997 provisions were replaced by the Hours of Work Regulations 2002, as above.

Apply for a safe manning document (MSF 4227)

Title 2, regulation 2.8: career and skill development; opportunities for seafarers’ employment

“Purpose: to promote career and skill development and employment opportunities for seafarers” (MLC, 2006)

Career and skill development: further information

Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB)

Maritime Skills Alliance

Title 3: accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering

Title 3, regulation 3.1: crew accommodation and recreational facilities

“Purpose: to ensure that seafarers have decent accommodation and recreational facilities on board” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

Read 21A and 21B in the ‘Large Commercial Yacht Code’ (LY3) for details of seafarer’s accommodation standards on large commercial yachts, equivalent to those required by the MLC.

MSN 1844(M) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Crew Accommodation

MGN 481(M) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Crew Accommodation - Supplementary Guidance

MGN 490(M) Maritime Labour Convention: Application to small vessels of less than 200GT that are ordinarily engaged in commercial activities

MGN 491(M) Maritime Labour Convention: Application to workboats of 200GT to less than 500GT

MGN 517(M) Maritime Labour Convention: Substantially equivalent accommodation standards for Large Commercial Yachts of 3000GT to less than 5000GT

Title 3, regulation 3.2: food and catering

“Purpose: to ensure that seafarers have access to good quality food and drinking water provided under regulated hygienic conditions.” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

MSN 1845(M) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Food & Catering - Provision of Food and Fresh Water

MSN 1846(M) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Food & Catering - Ships Cooks and Catering Staff

MIN 479(M) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Food Catering Recognised Qualifications in food hygiene or food safety

MSF 4395 - Application for Ships Cooks Certificate of Competency

Title 4: health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection

Title 4, regulation 4.1: medical care aboard ship and ashore

MGN 482(M) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Medical Care

“Purpose: To protect the health of seafarers and ensure their prompt access to medical care on board ship at shore.” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

MGN 225 provides information on getting radio medical advice when a medical incident or emergency arises while at sea

MGN 296 outlines the possible effects of prescription or over-the-counter drugs on a seafarer’s performance while working at sea

MSN 1841 provides information on the qualifying criteria for a medical practitioner to work as a ship’s doctor on a UK ship.

Confidential medical report form (MSF 4155)

MSN 1768 gives information on applying these SIs, and lists the medical stores to be carried:

Title 4, regulation 4.2: shipowners’ liability

“Purpose: To ensure that seafarers are protected from the financial consequences of sickness, injury or death occurring in connection with their employment.” (MLC, 2006)

Financial security for abandoned seafarers: recommendations for mandatory principles

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request a different format.

If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email infoline@mcga.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Regulations and guidance

MGN 480(M) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Shipowners Liabilities including Seaferer Compensation

Title 4, regulation 4.3: health and safety protection and accident prevention

“Purpose: To ensure that seafarers’ work environment on board ships promotes occupational safety and health” (MLC, 2006)

MSN 1850(M) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Health and Safety Reporting of Occupational Diseases

Occupational Disease Report Form MSF 4159

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request a different format.

If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email infoline@mcga.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: Health and Safety published accident statistics - information and advice

Regulations and guidance

SI 1997/2962: The Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations1997

SI 2012/1743: The Merchant Shipping (Accident and Investigation) Regulations 2012

MGN 20is about the requirements of the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations

See the ‘Code of safe working practices for merchant seamen (COSWP’), and download its annexes and safety signs for use on-board ship

The fishermen’s safety guide

MCA health and safety leaflets and posters

Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB)

Marine safety alerts

Technical safety alerts

Title 4, regulation 4.4: access to shore-based welfare facilities

“Purpose: To ensure that seafarers working on board a ship, have access to shore-based facilities and services to secure their health and well-being” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

Read MGN 486 about the UK’s arrangements for seafarers’ welfare under the MLC, 2006.

Read MGN 370 for information about the Dreadnought Medical Service for seafarers, given at Guy’s Hospital and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London.

Seafarers’ organisations

International Committee on Seafarers Welfare

The Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB)

The Dreadnought Unit at Guy’s and St Thomas’ (NHS Foundation Trust)

The Seamen’s Hospital Society

The Mission to Seafarers

Seafarers Advice and Information Line (S.A.I.L)

Seafarer Support

Title 4, regulation 4.5: social security

“Purpose: To ensure that measures are taken with a view to providing seafarers with access to social security protection.” (MLC, 2006)

Read HM Revenue & Customs’ tax information for seafarers

Title 5: compliance and enforcement

Title 5, regulation 5.1: Flag State responsibilities

“Purpose: to ensure that each Member implements its responsibilities under this Convention with respect to ships that fly its flag.” (MLC, 2006)

Regulations and guidance

SI 2013/1785: The Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention (MLC))(Survey and Certification) Regulations 2013

Read MSN 1848 and annexes 2 to 5 for the details of arrangements for the:

  • survey
  • inspection
  • certification

of seafarers’ living and working conditions on UK ships, in line with the MLC.

Download the Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC) part I

Download the DMLC part II: maritime labour certificate (MSF 2401) and guidance

Complaints procedure for seafarers

Before doing anything else, you have to follow the on-board complaints procedure, as outlined in MSN 1849.

If you’re on a ship in a UK port and the complaint isn’t resolved, you can make an on-shore complaint to MCA.

There’s more guidance about making on-shore complaints under ‘Regulation 5.2: Port State responsibilities’.

Substantial equivalents

The following ‘substantial equivalents’ have been agreed by the Tripartite Working Group (TWG):

  • applying crew accommodation requirements to large yachts
  • applying crew accommodation requirements to vessels less than 200GT
  • applying the crew accommodation to tugs
  • applying crew accommodation requirements to large commercial yachts 3000GT or more
  • dispensation allowing cadets to share a cabin
  • hours of work and rest: accepting digital records
  • UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) medical certificate: recognising it as ENG 1 equivalent (in certain circumstances)
  • diver medical certificate: recognition as ENG 1 equivalent in certain circumstances
  • pilot medical certificate: recognition as ENG 1 equivalent in certain circumstances
  • recognition, in the right circumstances, of experience/standing as a chef as equivalent to ship’s cook certificate

For further information on these topics, or to have another ‘substantial equivalent’ considered, email the MLC 2006 Co-ordination Group.

Title 5, regulation 5.2: Port State responsibilities

“Purpose: To enable each member to implement its responsibilities under this Convention regarding international co-operation in the implementation and enforcement of the Convention standards on foreign ships.” (MLC, 2006)

MGN 487 outlines the on-shore complaints process.

Send the details of your on-shore complaint to the MLC 2006 Co-ordination Group

Email: mlc@mcga.gov.uk

Contact Seafarer Safety and Health branch at MCA

Email Seafarer Safety and Health