MLC 2006 & Employment Agreements

MLC 2006 In Brief

MLC 2006 refers to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, an international labor convention established by the International Labour Organization (ILO). It sets out comprehensive rights and protection at work for seafarers worldwide. The convention consolidates and updates more than 65 international labor standards related to the maritime sector that had been adopted over the last 80 years.

Key aspects of MLC 2006 include:

  • Minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship: This includes minimum age, medical fitness, and qualifications.
  • Conditions of employment: This covers matters such as employment agreements, wages, hours of work and rest, and entitlements to leave.
  • Accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering: Standards are set for living conditions on board, including the quality and provision of food.
  • Health protection, medical care, welfare, and social security protection: This ensures that seafarers have access to medical care and welfare measures on board and ashore.
  • Compliance and enforcement: The convention establishes a certification system to ensure compliance with its provisions.

MLC 2006 is often described as the “fourth pillar” of international maritime regulations, alongside the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea), MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships), and STCW (Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) conventions. Its comprehensive nature aims to improve working conditions for seafarers globally and promote fair competition among shipowners.

EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTS: The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006), includes detailed provisions regarding seafarers’ employment agreements (SEAs). These agreements are crucial for defining the terms and conditions of employment for seafarers and ensuring their rights and protections. Overall, SEAs under MLC 2006 play a vital role in safeguarding the working conditions and rights of seafarers, providing clarity and security in their employment terms, and ensuring they are treated fairly and with dignity.

Cayman Islands Merchant Shipping Act 2024 - Seafarers Employment Agreements

The revised Cayman Islands Merchant Shipping Act 2024 has been published and specifically includes:


4.1 All seafarers on Cayman Islands ships and yachts (including “Private Yachts” and “Pleasure Vessels”) must be employed under an agreement signed by both the seafarer and by, or on behalf of, the employer.

4.2 Employment agreements must contain the following provisions as a minimum –
(a) the amount of wages and method of payment;
(b) the production of monthly wage accounts;
(c) any wage deductions permitted by MSA 2024;
(d) entitlement to repatriation and medical expenses;
(e) entitlement to leave;
(f) notice period required;
(g) the agreed place for the return of the seafarer; and
(h) the governing law.

4.3 No right or obligation under MSA 2024 can be renounced by an employment agreement.

4.4 This requirement for all seafarers to be employed under an employment agreement does not convey any additional rights or entitlements to seafarers, however the actual entitlement must now be included in the employment agreement. For example, there is no statutory entitlement to leave for seafarers serving on Pleasure Vessels. If a seafarer is employed on a Pleasure Vessel with no entitlement to leave, the employment agreement must state this.

If you would like to read more about your rights under MLC 2006, please click HERE