SEAFARER EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTS
Seafarer is a person who is employed by the ship owner for operation of a vessel such as petty officers, deck cadets etc. A seafarer employment agreement is an employment agreement between ship owner and a seafarer. They are drafted on the basis of Collective Bargaining Agreements entered into between Ship Owners and Unions of Seafarers such as ITF.
Following clauses are to be included while drafting the Seafare Employment Agreement:
It is mandatory to enter into an Seafarer Employment Agreement as per Section 100 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. The Directorate General of Shipping issued a circular (MS Notice 7 of 2020) dated 04 May 2020 providing the guidelines for drafting Seafarer Employment Agreements. This was issued in order to ensure complete effect of Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 provisions for employment of Indian Seafarers.
Following are the clauses mainly found in Seafarer Employment Agreements :
Name and details of the Seafarer : This clause mentions name, date of birth, nationality and address of the seafarer. The agreement should also mention what is the capacity in which the seafarer is to be employed.
Name and details of the Shipowner : This clause mentions the name and address of the Shipowner.
Description of the Vessel : The SEA must mention the Gross Tonnage, type of the ship and the trading area.
Work Hours : The SEA states what are the hours of work and hours of rest.
Wages: Like any other contract of employment, SEA also must clearly laid down what is the agreed consideration. SEA must also include details regarding overtime allowance. Overtime allowance can be paid as a lumpsum amount or on the basis of actuals.
Period onbaord : The SEA must mention the period for which the Seafarer is employed. Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006 states that the maximum continuous period that a seafarer should serve on board a vessel without leave is 11 months. The Ship owner must arrange for crew change at agreed periods.
Leave Policy : SEA must lay down the leave policy. National Holidays are to be taken into consideration.
Contributions : Contribution to the Seafarers Welfare Fund Society and Seamen’s Provident Fund Organisation. These contributions cannot be deducted from the wages.
Benefits: The SEA states what are the benefits available to the seafarer in the form of disability compensation, death compensation, sick wages and sick leave . The amount so mentioned shall not be less than that provided under Collective Bargaining Agreements. The above mentioned circular states that death and disability compensation for trainees shall not be less than ten lakhs.
Legal Support : The SEA shall specify the Ship owner’s liability for providing legal support to the seafarer in the event the seafarer is stranded, detained or arrested during the course of employment.
Repatriation : The SEA must clearly lay down the entitlement of seafarer for repatriation. This clause must also mention circumstances which are exempted from Ship owner’s liability.
Liabilities of both parties : The SEA must mention that the Ship owner is to provide clean and living condition for the seafarers along with food and water. The seafarers guarantee that there shall be no omission or negligence in the performance of duty.
Termination : The SEA must lay down what is the notice period for termination of SEA.
Apart from the above clauses, the SEA includes the date and time of agreement like any other agreement. SEA will also contain jurisdiction and governing law clause, disciplinary procedures, grievance redressal procedures etc.