What are the limits on working time for seafarers to whom the Seafarers Directive applies?

The Seafarers Directive (1999/63/EC) sets out limits on working time for anyone who is engaged on board a seagoing ship that is registered in the territory of any EU member state and is ordinarily engaged in commercial maritime operations. These workers are not covered by the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833).

The Seafarers Directive is implemented in relation to UK ships by the Merchant Shipping (Hours of Work) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2125), which provide that minimum hours of rest should not be less than 10 hours in any 24-hour period and 77 hours in any seven-day period. Hours of rest cannot be divided into more than two periods, one of which must be at least six hours in length and the interval between consecutive periods of rest must not exceed 14 hours.

From 17 March 2014, seafarers are entitled to a minimum of two and a half days' annual leave per month of employment (pro rated where they do not work a complete month), and an additional eight days' leave each year (pro rated where they do not work a complete leave year). Before 17 March 2014, seafarers were entitled to a minimum of four weeks' paid annual leave.