This is not a straightforward affair. There are some common features and some requirements that are covered by convention.
Contracts for yacht crew are generally issued on three terms; for the duration of the current season (three to six months), a temporary basis, or a permanent basis. Not to forget day work which is for entrants into the industry without a track record or merely looking for some short-term employment.
The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)
The MLC defines the parameters for yacht crew welfare, describing minimum requirements for crew accommodation, welfare and employment rights. The MLC proscribes that all crew members employed on commercial charter yachts must be hired on the basis of a Seafarers Employment Agreement (SEA).
A crew contract must define the name and contact details of the yacht’s owning company or SPV. The specifics are:
- Salary – How much and how
- Probationary period
- Annual vacation
- Disciplinary procedures
- Venue of jurisdiction
- Drug policy
- Confidentiality and Social media clauses
- Personal hygiene, dress code and behaviour
- Official MCA-approved contracts and agreements
An open source crew contract, crew confidentiality agreement and job description can be found in WMG Sample Documents for Yacht Crew Employment
The Seafarer Employment Agreement (SEA)
A contract for employment on a commercial yacht is covered by The MCA
Marine Guidance Note (MGN 477)
The SEA is a contractual agreement between the Employer (vessel’s Owner, representative or owning company) and the crew member. The SEA must be in a language understood by the crew member, translations should be on board as required.
The main summary points are summarised in MGN 477 (M)
• Every seafarer employed on a vessel to which the Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Minimum
Requirements for Seafarers etc.) Regulations 2014 (“the MLC Minimum Requirements Regulations”) apply. A contract must have a legally enforceable Seafarer Employment Agreement (a “SEA”)
• A SEA must include the minimum information specified in the MLC Minimum
• Requirements Regulations
• The notice period for termination of a SEA must be at least seven days, and must not be shorter for the ship Owner than for the seafarer
• A SEA may consist of more than one document; for example, it may include a Collective Bargaining Agreement
• If a SEA is not in English, an English translation must be provided onboard the ship
• When a seafarer’s work on a ship comes to an end, the seafarer must be provided with a record of their service on
board the ship
• Ships not subject to the MLC Minimum Requirement Regulations will remain subject to the provisions of the
Merchant Shipping (Crew Agreements, Lists of Crew and Discharge of Seamen) Regulations 1991. MGN 474 (M) sets out the requirements for such ships
Elements of the SEA
As per MGN 477 (M), the contents are divided into three parts which cover the base requirement to be included in all agreements and the later parts are if the seafarer is an employee or not. The provisions to be included in all agreements are as follows:
1. The full name, birthplace and date of birth (or age at the time of entering into the agreement) of the seafarer.
2. The name and address of the ship Owner.
3. The place where the agreement is entered into.
4. The date on which the agreement is entered into.
5. The capacity in which the seafarer is to work.
6. If the agreement has been made for a definite period, the termination date.
7. If the agreement has been made for an indefinite period, the period of notice of termination required and the
circumstances in which such notice may be given.
8. If the agreement has been made for a particular voyage, the destination port and the period following arrival after
which the agreement terminates.
9. The health and social security protection benefits to be provided to the seafarer by the ship Owner.
10. The maximum period of service on board following which the seafarer is entitled to repatriation (which must not exceed a period of 12 months less the number of days statutory paid leave to which the seafarer is entitled).
11. The seafarer’s entitlement to repatriation (including the mode of transport and destination of repatriation) and the circumstances in which the seafarer is required to meet or reimburse the ship Owner for the costs of repatriation.
12. The maximum sum which the ship Owner will pay to the seafarer in respect of compensation for any loss of personal
property arising from the loss or foundering of the ship.
13. Details of any collective bargaining agreement which is incorporated (in whole or part) into the agreement or is
otherwise relevant to it.
The Basics of an Employment Contract
For those vessels outside of the MLC, under English law, when working as an employee it is necessary for the employer to supply the employee with a contract. In the absence of this, an employer is required to offer a SEA. Within that contract there are a certain number of minimum defined requirements. Failure to supply a contract and/or to cover the specified requirements is a criminal offence.
As a minimum the written statement must cover the following:
1. The name of the employer and the employee.
2. The date when the employment began.
3. The remuneration to be paid and the intervals at which it is to be paid.
4. The hours of work.
5. Any holiday entitlement.
6. Any entitlement to sick leave, including any entitlement to sick pay.
7. Any pension contribution or pension scheme.
8. The terms of notice of termination.
9. A job title and/or a brief job description.
10. Where the employment is not permanent, the period for which the employment is expected to continue or, if it is for a fixed term, the date when it is to end.
11. Either the place of work or, if the employee is required or allowed to work in more than one location, an indication of the anticipated location)s) and of the employer’s address.
12. Details of the existence of any relevant collective agreements that directly affect the terms and conditions of the
employee’s employment – including, where the employer is not a party, the persons by whom they were made.
If an employee is normally employed in the UK but will be required to work abroad for the same employer for a period of more than one month, the statement must also cover:
• The period for which the employment abroad is to last
• The currency in which the employee is to be paid
• Any additional pay or benefits
• Terms relating to the employee’s repatriation
There is no particular requirement for any of the above terms to be included as part of the contract of employment.
However, where any of the above terms is not part of the contract, the exclusion of the particular term is to be covered by a specific statement to that effect : for example, if there is no pension entitlement with this contract of employment.
The statement must also include a note giving certain details of the employer’s disciplinary and grievance procedures(discussed later) and stating whether or not a “pensions contracting-out certificate” is in force for the employment in question.
For those vessels under the MLC, the SEA has replaced this requirement.
However, for those not under the MLC, vessels are required to have a set of ‘Ships Articles’.
This is, in effect, a generalised contract of employment that defines the basics of the employment as would a contract, with reference to the maritime environment.
For a set of Articles to be used they must be approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
link Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC)