Maritime Labour Convention

Learn about the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and how it aims to improve and ensure the safety and wellbeing of the crew onboard foreign-flagged and New Zealand ships.

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The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) came into force in New Zealand on 9 March 2017.

The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (the Convention) is an international treaty adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that sets out minimum standards to address the health, safety and welfare of seafarers in areas such as:

  • conditions of employment
  • accommodation
  • recreational facilities
  • food and catering
  • health protection
  • medical care
  • welfare and social protection issues.

The Convention will affect ship owners, seafarers and foreign crews, recruitment agencies and surveyors; and consider almost every aspect of work and life onboard, including:

  • minimum age
  • medical certification
  • qualifications of seafarers
  • seafarers’ employment agreements
  • use of licensed or regulated private recruitment and placement services
  • hours of work and rest
  • crewing levels
  • accommodation, food and catering
  • on-board recreational facilities
  • health and safety and accident prevention
  • on-board medical care
  • on-board complaints procedures and
  • payment of wages.

Recognising the importance of ensuring the safety and well-being of crews, New Zealand will have the jurisdiction to:

  • inspect foreign-flagged ships to check for compliance with the standards set by the Convention
  • inspect and certify its own ships, which travel internationally, to demonstrate compliance with the Convention.

The Convention will not apply to fishing vessels as the government has a range of measures in place regarding vessel safety and the fair treatment of crews on fishing vessels*.

* Legislation has required Foreign Charter Vessels fishing in our Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) to reflag to New Zealand and be subject to its laws, including the Maritime Transport Act, the Health and Safety at Work Act, and the Seafarer Certification Framework (SeaCert).
See also:

MLC Guidelines

Full Maritime Labour Convention guidelines

[PDF: 627kB, 35 pages]

Related info:

Maritime Labour Convention

Visit the ILO website
for the Convention’s full text.
Read more

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