The International standard for the training certification and watch keeping for seafarers 1995 and amended by Manila Ammendments 2010 mandated by theInternational Maritime Organization (IMO) has the force of law in 154 signatory countries.

The convention gives the minimum standards of qualifications required by all crew members at various levels depending upon vessel size. All crew involved in any safety or muster must complete the STCW 95+10 training course.


MLC 2006 Seafarers employment agreement

According to the MLC handbook, these are the main things that are required to appear in a legal SEA (Seafarer’s Employment Agreement).

  • Your name, your birthday, and your place of birth. Pretty basic. You will be referred to as the Employee.
  • The Employer’s name and address. Often there will not be a phone number, but make sure there is at least some way to contact them in case you have any questions. It is important to note here the possible distinction between the Employer and the Ship Owner. You are entitled to know who owns the yacht as well, but this person might or might not be the one who employs you.
  • Other basic information that must appear includes your job title, your salary or at least how it will be calculated, and the place where the contract is being signed. This might very well be different from where you will join the yacht.
  • As for the end of the contract, if it is a temporary agreement, the end date should be specified. If it is permanent, you should see the conditions under which the contract can be terminated and the notice period that must be given. In case you were curious, that notice period cannot be shorter than seven days, but keep in mind you can always be asked to leave immediately for gross misconduct.
  • You should be informed of your paid annual leave, or holiday due. This depends on the flag state under which the yacht sails. However, the minimum under MLC is 2.5 days per calendar month that you are on board. Some questions you might want to think about are if holiday can be taken over several periods or if it includes bank holidays. You might also have training benefits on board so it is interesting to know if, when, and how they come into effect.
  • You should see some sort of medical insurance, including benefits if you are sick or injured. This is an area where it will be important to ask questions to be clear. Better not to wait until you have hefty hospital bills to find out if they are covered or not.
  • And finally, you are entitled to repatriation, and the destination should be agreed upon and listed in the contract. If it is not discussed then it might be assumed that you are to be sent back to where you were picked up, which might or might not be your first choice if you were a lucky dock walker. In short, after 11 months of service, every crew member is entitled to a minimum of one flight “home,” meaning a place where you have some sort of tie… Probably a family or a house.

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