Your rights as someone working at sea are protected under international law by the International Labour Organization's Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) - also known as the Seafarers' Bill of Rights. This sets out the minimum rights that you should expect as a seafarer and it may be useful for you to know some of the detail.
The MLC has been described as the first of a new generation of international labour standards “with teeth”
Every ship over 500 gross tonnage operating in international waters or between ports of different countries must have a maritime labour certificate showing it complies with the MLC.
The MLC incorporates and builds on 68 existing maritime labour conventions and recommendations, as well as other fundamental principles, to ensure decent working and living conditions for all seafarers.
The MLC is designed to sit alongside other regulations such as the IMO standards on ship safety, security and quality ship management (such as SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL).
The MLC sets out minimum requirements. Many countries that ratify the Convention may actually have higher standards.
Regulation 1.4 - Recruitment and placement
This regulation seeks to ensure that seafarers have access to an efficient and well-regulated seafarer recruitment and placement system. Further details can be found on page 13 of the ITF Guide for Seafarers to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (see Downloads)