The Maritime Labour Convention 2006, which was ratified earlier this month by the UK, came into force this week.

This new International Labour Organization convention, known as “MLC, 2006”, consolidates and updates more than 68 international labour standards in the maritime sector.

It sets out, in one place, minimum global standards for seafarers living and working conditions. It covers almost every aspect of their work and life on board including:

  • minimum age
  • employment agreements
  • hours of work or rest
  • payment of wages
  • paid annual leave
  • repatriation at the end of contract
  • onboard medical care
  • the use of licensed private recruitment and placement services
  • accommodation, food and catering
  • health and safety protection and accident prevention and
  • seafarers’ complaint handling

From August 20, 2013, all commercially operated ships of 500 gross tonnage or over that fly the flag of any of the 30 countries that brought the MLC, 2006 into force will, if they operate on international voyages, be required to carry the Maritime Labour Certificate and the Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance.

These documents provide evidence that the ships are in compliance with the requirements of the Convention and will be inspected when they enter the ports of other countries that have ratified it.

There are approximately 89,000 seafarers working on UK flagged ships and more than 24,100 UK nationals work as seafarers.

Neil Todd of Thompsons Solicitors said: “The ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 by the UK is a positive step which is capable of improving the terms and conditions of employment of seafarers. It is however imperative that the Convention is effectively policed to ensure that employers do meet the requirements imposed upon them and adhere to them at all times”.