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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

MLC 2010 and the seafarer onboard a ship - some new bits . . .

Many shipowners and seafarers do not realise it as yet, but the Maritime Labour Convention 2010 (MLC 2010) which is going to come into force next year (2011), will be implemented by Port State Control. So it does not matter if your Flag State has ratified or signed on to the convention or not - if the Port State has signed on, then compliance by owners, operators, Master and seafarers will be essential.

States that have already ratified the MLC 2010 include Panama, Canada, Bahams, Norway, Liberia, Marshall Island, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Spain. Countries that are expected to ratify before the end of 2010 are the European Union countries and the Pacific Rim countries.

So what are the significant changes for seafarers?

One aspect would be the contract between seafarer and owner. Some significant new points would include:-

# The seafarer has been given enough time to read and review and also take advice on the contract or agreement before signing. What is "enough time"? That is left to the seafarer. If he feels he has not been given enough time, then he asks for more.

# The full name and address of the shipowner will have to be entered into the contract or agreement. In case the ownership is multiple layered, then all the names and addresses will be required to be entered.

# Full details of the health and social security benefits provided to the seafarer shall have to be entered. In this context, the new rules pertaining to NRIs and "foreign workers/Indians working abroad" under the EPFO may also be seen.

# Where the seafarer is liable for any reason to pay for his repatriation and other expenses, then a maximum amount needs to be set out in the contract/agreement itself. This can not be open ended as it is now.

# A :Shipowner's Complaint Procedure" will have to be defined and made available to the seafarer. The exact mechanics of this are yet unknown, but it is expected that this will have provision for referral back to flag and port state.

# Disciplinary rules and procedures will have to be set down, in detail, in keeping with flag and port state requirements. This appears to be a tough one. Each Port State will have different rules for such actions.

# On rest periods, much was expected, but little has changed. Maximum interval between 2 rest periods will be 14 hours. Extra work impacting rest hours for any reason - emergency, drills, musters, safety, peril - must be compensated.

# Paid leave entitlement is now a minimum of 40 days in each year of employment. This means 325 days work, 40 days leave, which works backwards to about 3.75 days per month. Pro-rata if employed for less than a year. In other words, for a 3-month contract, onboard for 2 months and 20 days entitles you to 10 days leave. Encashment of leave permitted.

# Termination of contract by seafarer for urgent or compassionate reasons shall be without cost to the seafarer. Notice period for termination of contract shall be not less than 7 days on both sides, and both seafarer as well as shipowner shall have equal number of days for this.

# Dental treatment will now be included in medical care, when visiting doctors ashore.

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Ofcourse, the above is still evolving, and there may be variations as and when the MLC 2010 comes into force in your Flag State. But expect the Port State Control to implement their version of MLC 2010 with vigour, and  soon.

Good luck. One more inspector . . .

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