Prior to the establishment of the MDWC, most flag States required “crew agreements” setting out the essential terms and conditions of service. The flag State had to approve the crew agreements before they were implemented by the ship, but a document was sufficient for the entire crew, signed by individuals upon boarding and exiting the ship. With the introduction of MLC, all that has changed. The MLC sets minimum requirements for almost all aspects of seafarers` working conditions – in fact, a “Bill of Rights”. In addition, signature items on Red Ensign-flagged vessels became obsolete when the MLC came into effect. Thus, any seafarer working on a commercial yacht must now have a Maritime Employment Contract (SEA) approved by the flag State. • The working conditions of a seafarer are defined or mentioned in a clear, legally enforceable written agreement, and must comply with the standards established by the code. The SEA is a contractual agreement between the crew member and the owner, representative or owner of the ship. (In most cases, the owner has little to do with managing the yacht; since many yachts are owned by a business and operated by a management company, we will now only refer to the “employer” to cover all three entities.) With particular regard to the employment of crew, the MLC requires that each flag State have a clearly written and legally enforceable contract for each crew member, not a general crew agreement. This is called the seafarers` employment contract or the SEA. It must be in a language understood by the crew member. If such a language is not English, an English translation must be kept on board the ship.
The SEA must be signed by the crew member and the ship`s employer and a copy must be kept by the crew member and a copy on board the ship. (The importance of keeping a copy on board was highlighted within two weeks of the entry into force of the MLC, when a ship was detained in Denmark, as the inspection revealed that none of the crew members had seas.) • Every seafarer has the right to fair conditions of employment Guide to the Maritime Employment Contract (719kb PDF) The MLC regulations stipulate: • Every seafarer has the right to safe employment meeting safety standards • Every seafarer has the right to health protection, medical care, social protection measures and other forms of social protection. • Every seafarer has the right to decent working and living conditions on board the ship. . . .