UK MCA shared guidance on the arrangements in place for inspection for compliance with the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (“MLC”). Inspection for MLC compliance is not required for vessels operating exclusively on domestic voyages and within 60 miles of a UK safe haven.
Flag State inspection
MCA has authorized the recognized Certifying Authorities to carry out the required MLC inspections on the vessels that they certify under the Codes. Any owner who wishes to have their vessel inspected to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the MLC should contact their Certifying Authority, to arrange for an inspection to take place.
The MLC requires each vessel to be inspected at least every 36 months. This fits with the renewal/intermediate survey regime applied under the Codes, and it is anticipated that vessels will receive an inspection and be issued with a new inspection report at each initial/renewal and intermediate survey. However, this is not always the case and MLC inspections may be completed at any time during the vessel’s Code certification cycle.
There are 16 inspection items under the MLC, which cover between them all provisions of the MLC:
- Minimum age
- Medical certification
- Qualifications of seafarers
- Seafarers’ employment agreements
- Use of any licensed or certified or regulated private recruitment and placement service
- Hours of work or rest
- Manning levels for the ship
- On-board recreational facilities
- Food and catering
- Health and safety and accident prevention
- On-board medical care
- On-board complaint procedures
- Payment of wages
- Financial security for repatriation
- Financial security relating to shipowners liability
The Certifying Authorities will expect to see evidence of compliance for all elements of the inspection. Some of the items are hardware items that should be easily demonstrable during the on-board inspection; other elements may be submitted by other means, such as by electronic means or by post, to demonstrate compliance with the applicable provisions of the legislation. A list of UK legislation implementing the MLC and supporting guidance is published in MGN 470(M).
Shipowners are encouraged to provide the following documents (where applicable) to the inspector to demonstrate their compliance with the requirements under UK legislation implementing the MLC:
- If applicable, a list of hazardous work for young persons, risk assessment for workers under 18 years of age, specific to the risks for young persons (see MSN 1838(M) Amendment 1).
- Evidence that any Recruitment and Placement Service used was based in a country which has ratified the MLC, or other evidence of MLC compliance such as certification by a flag State administration or a report of a successful and sufficiently thorough audit by the shipowner or suitable third party organization
- Copy of any applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement
- A copy of the Seafarers Employment Agreement(s) for seafarers serving on that ship
- Where the Seafarers Employment Agreement is signed by a representative of the shipowner, a copy of the manning agreement between the shipowner and the representative of the shipowner
- A copy of the shipowner’s evidence of financial security for repatriation of seafarers including provision for abandonment of seafarers (e.g. Certificate and Document of Insurance)
- A copy of the shipowner’s evidence of financial security to assure compensation in case of seafarer’s death or long-term disability due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard (e.g. Certificate and Document of Insurance).
- A copy of the schedule of shipboard working arrangements for use on-board the ship
- A copy of the record of daily hours of rest for use on-board the ship .
- A copy of the shipowner’s health and safety policy (more than five workers only) .
- A copy of the shipowner’s on-board complaint procedures
MCA has provided the model format for an Inspection Report to Certifying Authorities for their surveyors to complete and issue to owners/operators following inspection. This report will indicate to PSC inspectors that the UK MCA is satisfied that the vessel is compliant with the UK’s national legislation implementing the MLC. Such a report shall not be issued until the vessel owner has demonstrated that all elements of the inspection are being complied with to the satisfaction of the Certifying Authority.
A Small Commercial Vessel Certificate or Workboat Certificate will contain the following statement: “This certificate is only valid for commercial operation on international voyages or voyages of more than 60 miles from a UK safe haven with seafarers on board if the certificate is accompanied by a valid MLC inspection report demonstrating compliance.”
Certifying Authorities may charge for the additional work they will need to undertake to confirm that a vessel is compliant with the MLC.
MCA retains its right to inspect vessels at any time where there are reasonable grounds. Seafarers have the right to make a complaint to the MCA if they feel they are not receiving their entitlements under the MLC, as set out in MGN 489(M).
If in exceptional circumstances the owner needs to engage a Certifying Authority other than the Certifying Authority for their vessel to carry out the inspection for compliance with the MLC, they should obtain agreement from their own Certifying Authority in advance, to ensure that they will accept the evidence of compliance provided by another party for the purposes of issuing the certificate of compliance under the Codes. Assurance should also be obtained that the inspection will verify compliance with UK MLC standards for the vessel, including the substantially equivalent standards for crew accommodation as set out in MGN 601(M) or MGN 602(M).
Port State inspectors are required to accept a Maritime Labour Certificate and should normally accept documentation issued by or on behalf of the UK declaring that a UK vessel is compliant with the MLC as prima facie evidence of its compliance. Unless there are reasonable grounds for the Port State to believe the vessel is not compliant they should not unduly delay the vessel, but if they have concerns about the validity of the MCA compliance regime, they should be requested to contact the MCA.
If there are reasonable grounds for the port State authority to believe that the vessel is not compliant with the MLC, or the UK’s substantially equivalent standards, they may require rectification of any deficiencies found prior to the vessel’s departure from port.
Article V (7) of the MLC requires States to ensure that vessels that fly the flag of any State that has not ratified the MLC do not receive more favorable treatment than the ships that fly the flag of any State that has ratified it. MCA may inspect non-UK flagged vessels to which the Codes apply while operating in UK waters in the UK under this provision, where the flag state has not ratified the MLC, or there is no evidence of MLC inspection by the flag state.