The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 will come into force on yachts through port state control inspections as of 20 August this year, with expected hotspots in France and Spain, say our team at Burgess Management. If vessels are not compliant, they may be detained until the issues are resolved. For charter vessels – those under scrutiny from the authorities – disrupting a charter mid-week does not bode well for future bookings and it is essential that the risks be addressed ahead of time to avoid any possible detention.

Although the MLC 2006 legislation was ratified in August 2012, this will be the watershed summer charter season when yacht owners, captains and yacht management companies will start to feel the impact if they are not prepared, as the yachting industry was given two years’ grace to comply.

“One of the most important factors for managers, owners and captains to acknowledge is the difference between the interpretations of the MLC 2006 Code depending on your vessel’s flag state,” says Lucy Medd, one of our most experienced managers in Burgess Management. “People may think that this is a singular diktat from the International Labor Organization, but the interpretational nuances are left to each yacht’s flag registry, and those interpretations are becoming more defined. The flag registries are taking this very seriously. As a management team, we have needed to get up to speed on all the slight variances across the board.”

The MLC 2006 was initially created as a safeguard for seafarers throughout the global fleet, with particular reference to those on substandard commercial vessels. However, the trickle-down effect has touched all crewmembers working on a ‘commercially operating’ vessel, which includes charter yachts.

Much attention was initially paid to the ‘hard issues’ of the MLC 2006, namely the crew accommodations provided. However the ‘soft issues’ regarding hours of work and rest, correct employment protocol and complaints procedures (to name but a few) are the ones that will be particularly on the minds of the port state control inspectors come August. 

In particular, areas that have required attention have included the naming of a clearly defined shipowner in paperwork, creating procedures for crew grievances, keeping a full inventory of correctly completed seafarer’s employment agreements on board and ensuring all crewmembers have up-to-date, IMO White List-compliant medical certification.

One of the most significant issues relates to the correct hiring and payment of the crewmembers. Much like any employee ashore, crewmembers must now be included on an official payroll and provided with pay slips. Additionally, they should be given the opportunity to have social security payments deducted and paid on their behalf by the employer if they chose to pay this.

Hours of work and rest must be closely monitored and correctly recorded for all crew by the captain, even during peak charter periods, and accrued time off in lieu given at the end of the season.

“The true impact of this on staffing is unlikely to sink in to the yachting world for some time, but we are observing that full compliance is likely to result in more crew rotation for the lower-ranking positions, such as deckhands and junior service staff, requiring permanent employment of an extra crewmember to pick up the slack from absent staff,” says Medd.

Full monitoring of regulations pertaining to management, including ISM and MLC 2006, our entire Burgess-managed fleet of 78 vessels and over 1,000 crew members is now implemented via the recently launched Burgess Manage digital management solution system.

While our team at Burgess Management has taken the necessary steps to resolve any issues for our managed fleet, the team highlights the need for other vessels to follow suit. Whether they own a superyacht in our Charter CA fleet, a commercial yacht in our Sales CA fleet or a private vessel looking to go commercial, we advise owners seek experts who will ensure it meets the MLC 2006 criteria. Our Burgess Management division is happy to help answer any questions from owners or captains of vessels from outside of its managed fleet.

“There is nothing in the MLC 2006 that you can’t implement in a matter of days,” reassures Medd. “The only difficulties arise when the owning company pushes back against this legislation. With port state control knocking at the door, you can be sure that those who are not prepared will face the consequences.”

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