April 30, 2021

Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006) Ratified in Brazil


On April 12, 2021, Decree 10,671 was published, enacting the Maritime Labour Convention (“MLC 2006” or “MLC”), which was approved at the 94th International Labor Conference in 2006. The MLC consolidates and updates 68 conventions and recommendations for the maritime industry adopted by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The MLC applies to all individuals who are considered to be seafarers, with “seafarer” being defined as any person employed or working on board in a ship to which the MLC applies. The fundamental rights established in the MLC are related to (i) freedom of association and decision about the Union and the right to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement; (ii) prohibition of any type of forced labor; (iii) prohibition of child labor; and (iv) prohibition of discrimination in terms of employment and job position.

One of the main purposes of the MLC is to provide the minimum conditions required to work on board a ship and fair conditions of work, as well as health and safety rules to be applied to seafarers, in order to ensure the protection of health and social welfare. In addition, the MLC also requires a maritime labor certificate, supplemented by a maritime labor compliance statement, in order to demonstrate that the ship has been properly inspected by the Member state whose flag it bears and that the requirements regarding seafarers' working and living conditions are being complied with.

Among its provisions, the MLC ensures seafarers minimum rights in employment and social rights related to a minimum age for work on board a ship (16 years of age but 18 years for night work), a medical certification for the performance of activities on board, hours of work and rest, education and qualification, right of repatriation, and meals and includes detailed rules for the protection of workers’ health and safety, including regarding accident prevention and internal investigations procedures. The MLC also regulates issues such as indemnity for shipwreck, recruitment, accommodation conditions, well-being and leisure.

Every Member state shall ensure, within the limits of its jurisdiction, that the employment and social rights of seafarers are protected, unless the enforceability of such provisions is conflicting or contrary to the Brazilian Labor Law. In Brazil, the Law 13,467/2017 (“Labor Reform”) already provides that the rights in the collective bargaining agreements prevail over those in collective labor conventions, as the agreements are more specific. As a result, in case of conflict, the more specific Labor Law rules shall prevail.

Copies of any employment contracts and collective negotiations must be available on board.

The MLC will enter into force in Brazil on May 7, 2021.

For more information related to the topic of this Legal Update, please contact our Labor and Ports & Maritime groups.

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