UK MCA Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) rules for Small Charter Yachts Under 200 GT - A Guide

19 September 2013

The United Kingdom's Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has published welcome guidance concerning the application of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) to small charter yachts.

The guidelines have been published as Marine Guidance Note (MGN) 490 titled  "Maritime Labour Convention: Application to small vessels of less than 200GT that are ordinarily engaged in commercial activities".

The following guide helps to summarise the requirements of MGN 490 and highlight how Oceanskies can help yacht owners with full MLC compliance for their yacht.


The UK MCA has interpreted “all ships ordinarily engaged in commercial activities” to mean all vessels that are not pleasure vessels.

This means that all charter yachts certified under the MCA’s Small Commercial Vessel Codes of Practice have to comply with the MLC.

About MGN 490

MGN 490 takes the requirements of the MLC and applies it specifically to small vessels of less than 200GT. It is a prime example of how the UK flag state takes a proactive step in tailoring international law to meet the requirements of a particular category of vessel, in this case particularly the small yacht engaged in charter activity, that would otherwise have difficulty in complying with the full weight of legislation without specific interpretation.

A copy of MGN 490 can be downloaded on the following link:

MGN 490 - Maritime Labour Convention - less than 200GT

In summary MGN 490 provides guidance on the following:

  • Information on what vessels the MLC applies to and how it applies;
  • The substantially equivalent accommodation standards agreed by the UK Tripartite Working Group for UK vessels under 200GT; and
  • The procedures for having vessels inspected and certified.


The MCA will authorise its recognised Small Commercial Vessel Certifying Authorities to carry out the required MLC inspections on vessels that they certify under the UK small commercial vessel codes of practice as part of their normal survey regime.

The MLC requires each vessel to be inspected at least every 36 months. This fits with the renewal/intermediate survey regime applied to all small commercial vessels certified under the UK small commercial vessel codes of practice, so it is anticipated that such a yacht will receive an inspection at each initial/renewal and intermediate survey.

Although vessels under 500GT do not need to carry a Maritime Labour Certificate on board Oceanskies will on behalf of their client vessels be requesting a certificate from the MCA to ease Port State Control in foreign countries.


It should be noted that clause 6.1.6 of MGN 490 encourages yacht owners to provide various following documents to the Small Commercial Vessel Certifying Authority to demonstrate their compliance with the requirements under United Kingdom legislation implementing the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006:

  • A copy of an audit report by an Administration or Recognised Organisation, or a copy of the Seafarer Recruitment and Placement Service Licence or Certificate to operate.
  • 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 ship owner, a copy of the manning agreement between the ship owner and the representative of the ship owner.
  • A copy of the ship owner’s evidence of financial security for repatriation of seafarers (e.g. Certificate and Document of Insurance).
  • A copy of the ship owner’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 form of ship board working arrangements for use onboard the ship.
  • A copy of the form of daily hours of rest for use on board the ship.
  • A copy of the ship owner’s health and safety procedures
  • A copy of the ship owner’s on board complaint procedures.

Oceanskies is able to help yacht owners with the implementation of the systems required not only for a yacht to be in position to be furnished with the aforementioned documentation but also issued with the appropriate certification.

Oceanskies Crew Limited

A key requirement of MLC is that all crew working onboard charter yachts regardless of their size must be employed by a licensed seafarer recruitment and placement company.

Oceanskies is the holder of a Statement of Compliance by Lloyd’s Register meaning that it is fully compliant with standard A1.4 and guidelines B1.4 of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (“MLC”).

This means that we can further assist the owners of charter yachts by employing their crew through our unique dedicated offshore crew employment vehicle based on the Channel Island of Guernsey.

The vehicle is known as ‘Oceanskies Crew Limited’ (“OCL”), a Guernsey based limited liability company.

OCL has been established on a clean sheet basis to operate from its inception within the requirements of the MLC environment.

The yacht owner will usually enter into a contract with OCL for the provision of crew employment and payroll services for their yacht.

In cases where a third party yacht manager is involved it is possible to have a tripartite agreement clearly apportioning responsibility between the manager and OCL so that the employment and payroll services can easily be dovetailed into the vessel’s existing management structure.

The yacht owner and/or yacht manager funds OCL on a monthly standing order to cover each crew member’s salary plus costs.

The key advantages of the Ocenaskies crew employment service are as follows:

  • Crew are employed by OCL separately from the underlying client and/or the vessel owner. The structure removes the client completely from the liabilities associated with the employment of crew and the onshore reporting requirements linked to the owning of an offshore company.
  • OCL is owned by Oceanskies Limited and is not only fully based on the Channel Island of Guernsey but it is also run by genuine Guernsey residents.
  • All crew can be employed offshore even when the yacht itself is owned by an onshore company located in a jurisdiction that might not be favourable for the employment of seafarers.
  • All crew, regardless of whether they work on a private or commercial yacht, are employed within an MLC compliant environment.
  • All crew, regardless of whether they work on a private or commercial yacht, are employed through a Seafarers Employment Agreement (SEA) in line with MLC best practice requirements.
  • All crew are employed from Guernsey by a Guernsey based company (i.e. non-EU) without any deductions being made at source in Guernsey for tax or national insurance/social security.
  • Oceanskies charges on a fixed fee basis rather than as a percentage of the crewmember’s salary.

Contact Us

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information concerning MLC or to request a free no obligation quotation from Oceanskies to provide a complete MLC compliant support and documentation system for your yacht and/or our fully MLC compliant crew employment and payroll service.

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