A New Era For Yacht Crew

A New Era For Yacht Crew

The recent enactment of the *Merchant Shipping Act 2024* on March 11 introduces pivotal changes for the yachting community, especially for those working on Cayman Islands-flagged vessels.

The Cayman Islands Shipping Registry (CISR) now mandates written employment agreements for all crew members aboard private and pleasure yachts, marking a significant stride towards enhancing crew welfare and legal protections. Here’s what this means in practical terms for yacht crew members.


Understanding the Employment Agreement Requirement

The cornerstone of this new legislation is the compulsory employment agreement for yacht crews. These contracts serve to formally acknowledge the rights and duties of both the employer and the crew, ensuring transparency and fairness in their working relationship. A minimum set of conditions must be detailed in these agreements, including wage amount and payment method, monthly wage statements, permissible wage deductions, and provisions for repatriation, medical expenses, leave entitlements, notice period, return location, and the governing law.


Practical Implications for Crew Members

For yacht crew members, this means a significant upgrade in their employment security and clarity on their entitlements. The explicit stipulation of terms such as wages, leave, and repatriation rights in a signed document prevents potential disputes and misunderstandings. However, it's essential to note that while this legislation enforces the inclusion of certain rights in the contract, it doesn't create new entitlements beyond what the Act specifies.


Compliance and Verification

The CISR will not scrutinize individual contracts but will ensure compliance through surveys and inspections. This approach underscores the responsibility of yacht owners and operators to adhere to the law without imposing cumbersome administrative procedures on them.


No Right or Obligation Renunciation

A key provision of the Act is that no employment agreement can renounce any right or obligation under the MSA 2024. This clause safeguards crew members from contracts that might attempt to waive their statutory rights, ensuring their protection remains paramount.


In simplified terms, here’s a list of what all this means for crew:

The new rules say that employment contracts for yacht crew must include...

  • How much crew members will be paid and how they'll get their money.
  • A rule that says crew members get a statement showing their monthly pay.
  • Rules about when it's okay to take money out of a crew member's pay.
  •  Crew members' rights to be sent back to their home country and have their medical bills covered.
  • How much leave (time off) crew members get.
  • How much notice crew members or employers need to give if they want to end the contract.
  • Where crew members will be taken back to when their job ends.


The introduction of mandatory employment agreements by the *Merchant Shipping Act 2024* represents a significant advancement in the legal recognition and protection of yacht crew. For a detailed read of the Cayman Maritime Guidance Notice effective March 2024 see HERE.


Photo Credit: Yachtieworld

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