• Compliant Crewing is Crucial for Modern Yacht Owners

Compliant Crewing is Crucial for Modern Yacht Owners

In this article, Laura Kreckeler, Director of Operations in our marine services team, drills down into one of the challenges which is crucial to the enjoyment of your floating asset: compliant crewing.

Your crew is the lifeblood of your boat

Yachts require the kind of staff you might find in a large domestic residence, alongside a cohort of experienced sailors. In other words, yacht ownership is sort of an exercise in maritime Human Resource management.

A good crew makes sailing comfortable and safe, and keeps the yacht’s domestic wheels turning. It does so in conditions that can sometimes be difficult.

Yacht crews face unique challenges. At one end of the spectrum, that might mean serving drinks on choppy seas. At the other, the tiny but not trivial risk of piracy.

Accidents at sea are not uncommon; the US Coast Guard counted 5,265 accidents in 2020, involving 767 deaths, 3,191 injuries and approximately $62.5 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.

Not all of these accidents involved crew and the definition of “recreational boating” is broad, but the statistics serve to illustrate the inherent risks of seafaring life.

Crew protections

It’s therefore imperative that yacht crews are given the same employment rights as other workers, and offered appropriate protections which take into account the specialised nature of their work.

The gold standard is the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). The MLC stipulates that yacht owners should implement proper protections for the people that work on their boats. For example, owners should issue proper employment contracts, which include clear provisions in relation to salary, sick pay and repatriation rights in the event of accident or dismissal. Proper employment contracts should also prescribe an adequate level of insurance cover and have clauses covering discrimination and bullying.

In addition, a recent amendment to the MLC specifies that contracts should cover the potential of piracy, enforcing the principle of full pay for crew for the duration of any captivity.

The MLC is long and complex – you can learn more about it here - but the key message which MLC passes on is that yacht crews have rights and that owners need to adhere to them. Good owners, of course, will be keen to act accordingly to MLC directives.

Best practice

The MLC doesn’t apply to every vessel though; it is only ratified in certain countries and is only enforceable for commercial boats. If you charter your yacht, the MLC may well apply to you. If you don’t, it probably doesn’t. At the same time, it is common to see many yacht owners choosing to follow the detailed directives as a yardstick, whether it strictly applies to them or not.

The MLC is effectively a guide to best practice in crew compliance. By following its guidelines, yacht owners do what is the best for their crew, while also protecting themselves from the financial and reputational damage that can arise from an unfair dismissal case or an accident at sea.

Specialist HR services

The health, safety and fair treatment of crew is a fundamental ingredient for owners who want to fully enjoy the great adventure of yacht ownership. But doing so requires specialist knowledge as employment at sea is not the same as employment on land.

As an MLC compliant service provider, Trident Trust Marine Services can ensure that yacht owners follow the Convention’s standards in every aspect, giving both yacht crew and owners peace of mind that they will be always comprehensively protected.

Our HR service goes much further as we can also take on the entire administrative burden around employment contracts, the hiring and dismissal of employees, payroll, benefits and taxes.

Trident Trust Marine Services’ end-to-end offering includes yacht registration, ownership structuring, day-to-day administration support, and financial and operational services.

If you would like to know more about Trident Trust Marine Services’ private yachting services, please contact Laura or visit our webpage