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MLC 2006 Regulation 4.5 - Social Security Protection for Seafarers to Ensure that Measures are Taken with a View to Providing Seafarers with Access to Social Security Protection

{reg 4 5 seafarer social security

MLC 2006 Regulation 4.5 deals with access social security protection for seafarers. The majority of the obligations under the MLC, 2006, Regulation 4.5 and the Code, which deal with social security, are directed to the country in which the seafarer is ordinarily resident. There are also some specific obligations directed to flag States, essentially confirming the complementary obligations under Regulation 4.1 and 4.2 and other provisions in the MLC, 2006 related to social protection.

There is also a more general obligation on all countries to cooperate to try to ensure that, irrespective of residence or nationality, seafarers are not left without social security protection. The legal form and system for implementing these requirements is flexible and may take the form of laws or regulations or private schemes or collective bargaining agreements or a combination of these.

It can also involve bilateral or multilateral agreements to ensure maintenance of coverage under contributory or non-contributory systems or involve provisions adopted within the framework of regional economic integration organizations. The details of the coverage in question will usually be found in the national laws or regulations relating to the particular social security benefits. However some provisions are also required in one of the above noted formats, in order to clarify the general right to protection provided by the country of residence.

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mlc2006 seafarer social security

MLC 2006 Regulation 4.5 Social Security Protection for Seafarers (Summary)


Purpose: To ensure that measures are taken with a view to providing seafarers with access to social security protection



  • You and your dependents have a right to have access to social security protection.
  • In some countries social security is provided by the State through taxation. In other countries it is a matter for private individuals to take out personal insurance or to make arrangements through a company scheme.
  • As a seafarer you may come under the law of your home country or that of the flag State, either way, the provisions should be no worse than for a shore-based worker in that State.

seafarer social securty
      Picture: What is meant by Social Security? Credits: ITF

  • The convention aims to encourage wider social security protection for seafarers. States signing up to the convention have to provide at least three from the above list, the recommended areas are: medical care, sickness benefit and employment injury benefit.
  • Normally this should be done by the authorities in the country where you live, but it may be arranged through agreement with the flag State or through your employer or union. You may have to contribute financially to the scheme. The point is that you should not be worse off, in terms of social security, on account of choosing a career at sea.
  • In the event of any dispute over social security provisions, there has to be a fair and effective settlement procedure.

Your employment agreement should clearly set out any aspects of social security protection provided by the shipowner, any statutory deductions that are to come out of your wages (to be paid into a State scheme) and any contributions that the shipowner has to pay on your behalf

  • Where the shipowner has responsibilities for making social security payments Your Rights under the Maritime Labour Convention on your behalf, the flag State must ensure compliance.

Title 4. Health Protection, Medical Care, Welfare and Social Security Protection

Regulation 4.5; Code Standard A4.5 and Guideline B4.5


MLC 2006 Regulation 4.5 - Social Security

Purpose: To ensure that measures are taken with a view to providing seafarers with access to social security protection
  1. Each Member shall ensure that all seafarers and, to the extent provided for in its national law, their dependants have access to social security protection in accordance with the Code without prejudice however to any more favourable conditions referred to in paragraph 8 of article 19 of the Constitution.
  2. Each Member undertakes to take steps, according to its national circumstances, individually and through international cooperation, to achieve progressively comprehensive social security protection for seafarers.
  3. Each Member shall ensure that seafarers who are subject to its social security legislation, and, to the extent provided for in its national law, their dependants, are entitled to benefit from social security protection no less favourable than that enjoyed by shoreworkers.

Standard A4.5 - Social Security

  1. The branches to be considered with a view to achieving progressively comprehensive social security protection under Regulation 4.5 are: medical care, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, old-age benefit, employment injury benefit, family benefit, maternity benefit, invalidity benefit and survivors’ benefit, complementing the protection provided for under Regulations 4.1, on medical care, and 4.2, on shipowners’ liability, and under other titles of this Convention.
  2. At the time of ratification, the protection to be provided by each Member in accordance with Regulation 4.5, paragraph 1, shall include at least three of the nine branches listed in paragraph 1 of this Standard.
  3. Each Member shall take steps according to its national circumstances to provide the complementary social security protection referred to in paragraph 1 of this Standard to all seafarers ordinarily resident in its territory. This responsibility could be satisfied, for example, through appropriate bilateral or multilateral agreements or contribution-based systems. The resulting protection shall be no less favourable than that enjoyed by shoreworkers resident in their territory.
  4. Notwithstanding the attribution of responsibilities in paragraph 3 of this Standard, Members may determine, through bilateral and multilateral agreements and through provisions adopted in the framework of regional economic integration organizations, other rules concerning the social security legislation to which seafarers are subject.
  5. Each Member’s responsibilities with respect to seafarers on ships that fly its flag shall include those provided for by Regulations 4.1 and 4.2 and the related provisions of the Code, as well as those that are inherent in its general obligations under international law.
  6. Each Member shall give consideration to the various ways in which comparable benefits will, in accordance with national law and practice, be provided to seafarers in the absence of adequate coverage in the branches referred to in paragraph 1 of this Standard.
  7. The protection under Regulation 4.5, paragraph 1, may, as appropriate, be contained in laws or regulations, in private schemes or in collective bargaining agreements or in a combination of these.
  8. To the extent consistent with their national law and practice, Members shall cooperate, through bilateral or multilateral agreements or other arrangements, to ensure the maintenance of social security rights, provided through contributory or non-contributory schemes, which have been acquired, or are in the course of acquisition, by all seafarers regardless of residence.
  9. Each Member shall establish fair and effective procedures for the settlement of disputes.
  10. Each Member shall at the time of ratification specify the branches for which protection is provided in accordance with paragraph 2 of this Standard. It shall subsequently notify the Director-General of the International Labour Office when it provides social security protection in respect of one or more other branches stated in paragraph 1 of this Standard. The Director-General shall maintain a register of this information and shall make it available to all interested parties.
  11. The reports to the International Labour Office pursuant to article 22 of the Constitution, shall also include information regarding steps taken in accordance with Regulation 4.5, paragraph 2, to extend protection to other branches.

Guideline B4.5 - Social Security

  1. The protection to be provided at the time of ratification in accordance with Standard A4.5, paragraph 2, should at least include the branches of medical care, sickness benefit and employment injury benefit.
  2. In the circumstances referred to in Standard A4.5, paragraph 6, comparable benefits may be provided through insurance, bilateral and multilateral agreements or other effective means, taking into consideration the provisions of relevant collective bargaining agreements. Where such measures are adopted, seafarers covered by such measures should be advised of the means by which the various branches of social security protection will be provided.
  3. Where seafarers are subject to more than one national legislation covering social security, the Members concerned should cooperate in order to determine by mutual agreement which legislation is to apply, taking into account such factors as the type and level of protection under the respective legislations which is more favourable to the seafarer concerned as well as the seafarer’s preference.
  4. The procedures to be established under Standard A4.5, paragraph 9, should be designed to cover all disputes relevant to the claims of the seafarers concerned, irrespective of the manner in which the coverage is provided.
  5. Each Member which has national seafarers, non-national seafarers or both serving on ships that fly its flag should provide the social security protection in the Convention as applicable, and should periodically review the branches of social security protection in Standard A4.5, paragraph 1, with a view to identifying any additional branches appropriate for the seafarers concerned.
  6. The seafarers’ employment agreement should identify the means by which the various branches of social security protection will be provided to the seafarer by the shipowner as well as any other relevant information at the disposal of the ship owner, such as statutory deductions from the seafarers’ wages and shipowners’ contributions which may be made in accordance with the requirements of identified authorized bodies pursuant to relevant national social security schemes.
  7. The Member whose flag the ship flies should, in effectively exercising its jurisdiction over social matters, satisfy itself that the shipowners’ responsibilities concerning social security protection are met, including making the required contributions to social security schemes.

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

LAST UPDATED ON Dec 13, 2019

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