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Changes to maritime labour rules on working time, rest periods and complaint procedures on board the ship

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
1.7.2020 9.16
News item

A number of acts concerning maritime labour will be amended on 1 July 2020. The amendments concern the complaint procedure on board the ship, working time and rest periods, among others. They are based on provisions issued by the Maritime Labour Convention of the International Labour Organization ILO.

The President approved the amendments on 11 June 2020 on the proposal of the Government. At the same time, the President approved the amendments made to the guidelines of the ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention in 2018.

The purpose of the amendments to the guidelines is to ensure the continuity of seafarers’ employment contracts and salary payments in the event of piracy or armed robbery against the ship. A Government Decree to bring into force the amendments nationally is scheduled to be issued later in autumn 2020.

Amendments to application of Seamen’s Working Hours Act and exceptions to minimum rest periods and maximum overtime working hours in certain situations

The provision concerning the scope of application of Seamen’s Working Hours Act will be amended as of 1 July 2020. From now on, the regulations under the Seamen’s Working Hours Act on minimum rest periods and exceptions to them, the work and watch schedules and the working time register will apply to the chief of the catering department in passenger ships employing more than 15 persons. In addition, the requirements concerning the working time register will apply to the master of ship in international traffic where, besides the master, at least two people work on the ship. These requirements also apply to the chief engineer and first mate.

Deviations from the regulation on minimum rest periods will no longer be permitted in ships in international traffic when a ship performs operations ordered by port authorities or necessary guarding services in ports. However, deviations from the restrictions on maximum weekly overtime work will be permitted for the performance of these tasks. The same applies to ships in domestic traffic when they perform operations ordered by port authorities or other equivalent authority.  Moreover, in situations where calls for work disrupt an employee’s daily rest period, the employee must be granted a compensatory rest period as soon as possible.

Amendments to complaint procedures on board the ship

An amendment to the Seafarers’ Employment Contracts Act requires an employer to provide an employee, in connection with the drafting of the employment contract, instructions on how the employee can file a complaint about the employer’s activities that violate rules on maritime labour. The provision requires the employer to instruct the employee about the organisation of the complaint procedure on board the ship. The employer must also provide a sufficient framework for addressing the complaints.


Elli Nieminen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 048 247

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