Guidelines on the Application of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention

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The ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) is strictly enforced on a global basis and is subject to Port State Control inspection.

This edition:

  • Addresses the wide range of MLC provisions, including seafarers’ contractual arrangements, manning agencies, working hours, health and safety, crew accommodation, catering standards and seafarers’ welfare
  • Contains detailed advice on the MLC requirement for ships to maintain a Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC), including linkages to the ISM Code
  • Takes account of the inspection processes and procedures used by PSC authorities since entry into force in 2013
  • Covers the latest MLC amendments and ILO guidance adopted since 2013 with respect to financial security and repatriation to prevent abandonment, changes to employment agreements to address piracy, training of ships’ cooks, implementation of occupational health and safety provisions and measures to prevent harassment and bullying.

Purpose and Scope

These Guidelines are intended to help shipping companies enhance their understanding of their responsibilities under the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) and to provide up-to-date advice on implementation and compliance of its provisions. This is likely to be particularly helpful to Chief Executives, senior managers (including personnel and human resources managers), as well as Masters and senior officers serving on board a company’s ships. In view of the potential overlap with the IMO International Safety Management (ISM) Code, the ICS Guidelines should also be useful for Designated Persons Ashore (DPAs), as defined by the ISM Code.

Rather than directly imposing obligations on shipowners, the MLC sets out the requirements with which governments must comply, and includes detailed guidance about how the requirements should be implemented by Parties to the Convention. Therefore, the aim of this third edition of the ICS Guidelines is to provide an updated and detailed overview of the provisions which governments are expected to adhere to and, within this context, further explain the impact of the MLC on shipping companies.

These ICS Guidelines have been divided into four main sections:

Section A: This section provides an overview of the Convention’s requirements and explains the certification and enforcement regime applicable to shipowners. It also explores the fundamental rights of seafarers which the MLC seeks to protect.

Section B: This section contains comprehensive analysis about the requirements of the MLC. This includes an assessment of the different aspects of seafarers’ employment, with detailed advice on compliance.

Annexes: The Annexes to these Guidelines contain sample certification required by the MLC, including an example of a Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (Part II) as it might be completed by a shipping company (see Annex 2). A checklist to assist shipping companies in the process of implementation of the Convention is also included.

Appendices: The Appendices to these Guidelines contain updated information relevant to implementation of the MLC.

These ICS Guidelines should be read in conjunction with the MLC, which is a mandatory carriage requirement. Among other relevant documents, a copy of the MLC is included in the complimentary digital version of this ICS publication. The following Guidelines are not intended to replace or supersede the MLC text and should also be read in conjunction with the respective flag State implementation regulations.


Key Issues, Certification and Enforcement, and Seafarers’ Rights

A1 The ILO MLC – An Overview

1.1 Purpose of the MLC

1.2 Labour Standards Covered

1.3 Certification

1.4 Entry into Force and Implementation

1.5 Enforcement

1.6 Convention Structure

1.7 Application

A2 Certification and Enforcement

2.1 Certification of Ships

2.2 Maritime Labour Certificate

2.3 Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance

2.4 Flag State Enforcement

2.5 Port State Control

2.6 On Board Complaint Procedures

A3 Rights

3.1 Fundamental Rights

3.2 Seafarers’ Rights


MLC Labour Standards Incorporated in the Regulations and Code

B1 Minimum Requirements for Seafarers to Work on a Ship

1.1 Minimum Age

1.2 Medical Certificate

1.3 Training and Qualifications

1.4 Recruitment and Placement

B2 Conditions of Employment

2.1 Seafarers’ Employment Agreements

2.2 Wages

2.3 Hours of Work and Hours of Rest

2.4 Entitlement to Leave

2.5 Repatriation

2.6 Seafarer Compensation for the Ship’s Loss or Foundering

2.7 Manning Levels

2.8 Career and Skill Development and Opportunities for Seafarers’ Employment

B3 Accommodation, Recreational Facilities, Food and Catering

3.1 Accommodation and Recreational Facilities

3.2 Food and Catering

B4 Health Protection, Medical Care, Welfare and Social Security Protection

4.1 Medical Care on Board Ship and Ashore

4.2 Shipowner’s Liability

4.3 Health and Safety Protection and Accident Prevention

4.4 Access to Shore Based Welfare Facilities

4.5 Social Security


1 Example Certification

2 Example of Completed Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (Part II)

3 Checklist to Help Shipowners Ensure Compliance


1 ILO Conventions Superseded by the MLC

2 ILO Resolution on Definition of Seafarer

3 Information to be Included in Medical Certificates

4 Commentary on MLC Requirements Concerning Hours of Work and Rest

5 Sample Table of Shipboard Working Arrangements and Seafarer’s Rest Hour Record

6 STCW 2010 ‘Manila Exceptions’ to Normal Rest Hour Requirements

7 Advice on Disciplinary Procedures

8 Guidance on Living Conditions for Ships Constructed Before August 2013

9 Guidance on Food Storage and Galley

10 Relevant International Conventions and Codes

11 Relevant Industry Publications

12 National Shipowners’ Organisations with whom Competent Authorities may Consult

13 List of Countries that have Ratified the MLC (at the Date of Publication)

14 ICS/ITF Guidelines for implementing the welfare aspects of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006

15 ICS/ITF Guidance on Eliminating Shipboard Harassment and Bullying


The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the principal international trade association for the shipping industry, representing shipowners and operators in all sectors and trades.

ICS membership comprises national shipowners’ associations in Asia, Europe and the Americas whose member shipping companies operate over 80% of the world’s merchant tonnage.

Established in 1921, ICS is concerned with all technical, legal, employment affairs and policy issues that may affect international shipping.

ICS represents shipowners with the various intergovernmental regulatory bodies that impact on shipping, including the International Maritime Organization.

ICS also develops best practices and guidance, including a wide range of publications and free resources that are used by ship operators globally.

Number of Pages:
Published Date:
April 2020
Book Height:
310 mm
Book Width:
210 mm
0 kg

 International Chamber of Shipping