Legal and Medical Info

Sandra Jordaan

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18 March 2020

Crew changes - extension of sea service beyond contractual periods The period of service that crew are allowed to be continually signed onto the vessel is calculated as 365 - annual leave days. So if someone has 60 days of annual leave, they will need to be repatriated for their annual leave before 305 days of continuous service on board. This is something that Port State Control authorities do check and do not look favourably on when this is exceeded; it has led to PSC detentions. In some cases, it is not always possible to change over crew in this time and their SEA can be extended for up to a month if necessary if the crew member voluntarily consents to this in writing. In this circumstance, crew are allowed to be on board for a maximum period of 12 months under MLC and details furnished to Flag. Speak to the captain, management and crew about the impact that it might have on their service periods. 3) Crew medical care and sick leave In a Guidance Note issued by The Cayman Islands Shipping Registry (CISR), they state that "any seafarer that is diagnosed with COVID-19 whilst employed would be entitled to medical care and sick leave as per their SEA, the law and MLC". The guidance note also states that any "mandatory quarantine" on joining or leaving a ship for any existing crew should be treated as if the seafarer is still in service and therefore paid. For crew joining, this is something that would be negotiated prior to signing their contract. "Precautionary self-isolation" is at the discretion of the employer and might not necessarily be considered in the service of the ship, however, the CISR does recommend that this be considered as in the service of the ship and therefore paid. 4) Expiry of CoCs and crew statutory certificates Please check with your Flag State what their process is for informing them if any Certificate of Competency (CoC) holder is not able to revalidate their certificate before the expiry date due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes revalidating of any STCW certificates. CISR: Submit a request in writing to CISR together with an official confirmation of continued validity from the issuing authority of the seafarer’s COC. CISR will give due consideration to issuing a confirmation letter for the seafarer to continue serving onboard. No fees will be charged for this confirmation letter. 5) Vessel audits, surveys, inspections and servicing of critical equipment Flag might give consideration to the extension of mandatory surveys, inspections and audits during this time and servicing of critical equipment. Applications for extension of surveys, inspections, audits or the validity of statutory certificates should be submitted to Flag. The CISR has advised that an application for an extension needs to be submitted by a recommendation form the ship's recommended recognised organisation (RO). To avoid PSC issues, applications should be submitted before the due date.
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