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MLC 2006 Regulation 2.1 - Mandatory Employment Agreement Requirements to Ensure that Seafarers have a Fair Employment Agreement (Including 2018 Amendment)

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MLC 2006 Regulation 2.1 deals with the Seafarers Employment Agreement (SEA) which was introduced in the MLC 2006 and is a very important document for ensuring that seafarers, shipowners, flag State inspectors and port State control officers have clear information and a record of the terms of employment for the seafarer.

The concern is more with the minimum information that must be found in a SEA. For seafarers whose conditions of employment are established under a collective bargaining agreement, the provisions in the agreement can be incorporated by reference. For seafarers that are not employees but are self-employed, there must be a contract or other information available to provide evidence that the working arrangements comply with the national law implementing the requirements of the MLC 2006.

The MLC 2006 does not require a particular format for an agreement; nor does it specify the term used to describe the agreement.

The Standard A2.1 - Seafarers’ employment agreements was amended in 2018 to have an additional paragraph (7).



mlc2006 seafarer agreement

MLC 2006 Regulation 2.1 - Seafarers' Employment Agreements (Summary)

Purpose: To ensure that seafarers have a fair employment agreement

  • You are entitled to a fair employment agreement or contract setting out decent living and working conditions on board. It must be signed by you and your employer, be easy to understand and legally enforceable.
  • On the employer’s side, it can be signed by the shipowner, the shipowners representative, the ship manager, agent or bareboat charterer. If it is not the owner of the ship, it must be the organization or person that has taken over the duties and responsibilities for operating the ship.
  •  You must receive and keep a signed original of the agreement, a copy of which must also be available on board. Make sure you fully understand your rights and responsibilities. You have the right to seek advice before you sign.
  • Applicable CBAs are normally incorporated in the employment agreement. All information on the terms and conditions of employment, including the CBA, must be freely accessible to everyone on board and available for inspection in port.
  •  In addition to the employment agreement, you must receive a record of your employment or discharge book - this will help you when seeking another job or making a case for promotion. This record must not include reference to performance or discipline issues it is simply a document of your service.

seafarer employment agreement
      Picture: What must be in your employment agreement? Credits: ITF

Title 2. Conditions of Employment

Regulation 2.1; Code Standard A2.1 and Guideline B2.1

MLC 2006 Regulation 2.1 - Seafarers' Employment Agreements

Purpose: To ensure that seafarers' have a fair employment agreement
  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.

Standard A2.1 - Seafarers’ Employment Agreements

  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 shipowner (or, where they are not employees, evidence of contractual or similar arrangements) providing them with decent working and living 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 a 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 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):
    1. a copy of a standard form of the agreement; and
    2. 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 agreements shall in all cases contain the following particulars:
    1. the seafarer’s full name, date of birth or age, and birthplace;
    2. the shipowner’s name and address;
    3. the place where and date when the seafarers’ employment agreement is entered into;
    4. the capacity in which the seafarer is to be employed;
    5. the amount of the seafarer’s wages or, where applicable, the formula used for calculating them;
    6. the amount of paid annual leave or, where applicable, the formula used for calculating it;
    7. the termination of the agreement and the conditions thereof, including:
      1. 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 not be less for the shipowner than for the seafarer;
      2. if the agreement has been made for a definite period, the date fixed for its expiry; and
      3. 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;
    8. the health and social security protection benefits to be provided to the seafarer by the shipowner;
    9. the seafarer’s entitlement to repatriation;
    10. reference to the collective bargaining agreement, if applicable; and
    11. 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 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 agreements as justifying termination of the employment 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.
  7. (Note: Addition - 2018 Amendment to the Code of the MLC 2006, relating to Regulation 2.1 - Expected date of entry into force: Dec 26, 2020) Each Member shall require that a seafarer’s employment agreement shall continue to have effect while a seafarer is held captive on or off the ship as a result of acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships, regardless of whether the date fixed for its expiry has passed or either party has given notice to suspend or terminate it. For the purpose of this paragraph, the term:
    1. piracy shall have the same meaning as in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982;
    2. armed robbery against ships means any illegal act of violence or detention or any act of depredation, or threat thereof, other than an act of piracy, committed for private ends and directed against a ship or against persons or property on board such a ship, within a State’s internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial sea, or any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described above.

Guideline B2.1.1 - Record of Employment

  1. In determining the particulars to be recorded in the record of employment referred to in Standard A2.1, paragraph 1(e), each Member should ensure that this document contains sufficient information, with a translation in English, to facilitate the acquisition of further work or to satisfy the sea-service requirements for upgrading or promotion. A seafarers’ discharge book may satisfy the requirements of paragraph 1(e) of that Standard.

Disclaimer: For general information purpose only - please check with ILO MLC 2006 for the latest requirements and accurate info

LAST UPDATED ON Dec 10, 2019