The UK Rules
MLC 2006

Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)

The Maritime Labour Convention came into full force in the United Kingdom in August 2014. The 'MLC 2006' sets forth minimum standards relating to the working and living rights of seagoing personnel.

Information in this section follows Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) guidance produced to help employers and seafarers meet Maritime Labour Convention regulations.

Maritime Labour Convention Exemptions

MLC regulations do not cover seafarers who are serving on certain kinds of vessels, including:

MLC Minimum Requirements

Under MLC rules, the minimum standards for seafarers working on a ship include a minimum age limit, a medical certification, and specific training and qualifications.

Minimum Age for Seafarers

As a general rule, the minimum age for seafarers is sixteen (16). You would need to be at least eighteen years old to perform night work duties.

Some exceptions exist for:

Medical Certification

Having the appropriate seafarer medical certificate is a requirement under the regulations of MLC to work on ships at sea.

Training and Qualifications

According to the Maritime Labour Convention for seafarers, they need to be trained and qualified to perform their onboard duties, and receive:

Note: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) website provides further information on seafarer training and qualifications.

Conditions of Employment

The rules of the Maritime Labour Convention govern the minimum working rights for seafarers. As such, they will cover:

Employment Contracts

The convention helps to ensure contracts made between seafarers and shipowners provide them with fair living and working conditions. All contracts should be written in English language and, as a minimum, include:

As a seafarer working on a seagoing vessel, you must also be:

Seafarers Wages

The MLC agreement states that seafarers' wages should:

Hours of Rest

There are minimum requirements on seafarer hours of rest. As such, rest periods must be at least:

Any required crew exercises, such as lifeboat drills, must be carried out in a way to cause minimal disruption to rest periods. Seafarers would be entitled to a rest period to make up for it if they get called out during their rest period.

Note: You can review 'Merchant Shipping Notice (MSN) 1848 (M) Maritime Labour Convention 2006, Survey and certification of UK ships' for further clarification.

Holiday Pay

The MLC provides seafarers with an entitlement to paid leave which is calculated at 2.5 days per calendar month of employment. The 'Merchant Shipping Regulations 2002' contains extra details about holiday pay for seafarers.

Repatriation of Seafarers

The repatriation of seafarers gives them the right to be returned back to their home country in certain situations, including:

Note: Shipowners cannot request the advance payment to cover the cost of seafarer repatriation. The MCA can repatriate seafarers working on UK ships if the shipowner fails to make suitable repatriation arrangements.

Accommodation and Recreational Facilities

The Maritime and Labour Convention (MLC) ensures seafarers have appropriate access to decent accommodation and to recreational facilities while living on seagoing ships.

Medical Care

Seafarers' rights to adequate medical care includes:

Shipowner Liabilities

In situations where a seafarer suffers an accident or a disability due to their work, the MLC forces the shipowner to provide (where necessary):

Because of this, shipowners need to have adequate financial cover in case they become liable for compensation (e.g. for a long-term disability or illness).

Note: A shipowner would not be liable if an injury is not related to the duties of a seafarer, if it is caused by wilful misconduct, or if a seafarer intentionally hides an illness or a disability.

Health and Safety Protection

Under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), the working environments for seafarers on ships must:

Enforcement of Seafarer Living and Working Conditions

The MLC regulations allow the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to withdraw the maritime labour certificate of a ship in cases whereby seafarer living and working conditions are breached.

Seafarer Complaints

There are several ways for seafarers to make a complaint about breaches of Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). Seafarers can complain to a manager while on board, and to an MCA surveyor while on shore. Further information and guidance is available in:


Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) Guide for United Kingdom

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