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Seafarers and manning

Danish Maritime Authority

Conditions of employment

Danish ships must comply with the provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). Parts of the MLC’s international requirements have been implemented in Danish legislation via national regulation on occupational health and accommodation.

The seafarer’s fundamental rights

Minimum age

Young seafarers aged between 16 and 18 and must have turned 16 to go to sea

Employment contract

A copy of the signed employment contract. The contract is proof of what has been agreed between the parties.

Complaints procedures

Every seafarer on board must be given a copy of the complaints procedure applying on board the ship. The complaints procedure must include contact details of the Danish Maritime Authority and of one or more persons on board who can provide confidential and impartial advice about the complaint and otherwise help the seafarer with the complaints procedures applicable to the ship .

Safety and health

The seafarers are entitled to protection and the necessary protective equipment against accidents and health hazards during work.

Food and drink

The seafarers are entitled to good and adequate food. The food must consist of three main meals and one or more snack meals in sufficient quantities to satisfy the needs of all persons on board.

Spare time

The seafarers are entitled to go ashore in the spare time when the ship is in port or at a safe anchoring place, unless the seafarers presence is required on board, for example for safety reasons or due to the ship’s impending departure.


The shipowner must take out insurance or provide similar financial security covering abandoned seafarers.

Hours of rest

The seafarers are entitled to regular rest periods that are long enough to ensure the health and safety. If the seafarer are over 18, the seafarer are entitled to at least 10 hours of rest in every working day. The hours of rest may be divided into no more than two periods, one of which must be at least 6 hours in length. The interval between the rest periods must be no more than 14 hours. The total hours of rest in any week must be at least 77 hours.

Personal effects

The seafarers are entitled to bring items for personal use to a reasonable extent.


The seafarers are entitled to complain to the shipowner if the seafarer are dissatisfied with the working and living conditions. This includes issues related to payment of the wages, ship service, conditions of employment, accommodation spaces, recreational facilities, health protection as well as the food on board.

Payment of wages

The seafarers can demand to receive wages once a week when the ship is in port. The seafarer can demand that wages be paid out in the local currency at the current exchange rate. However, wages must be paid at regular intervals not exceeding one month.

Who is entitled to annual leave?

Employees on board ships, including the master, regardless of the ships' use and areas of trade are entitled to annual leave according to the order on seafarers’ holiday.

Which specific rules applies to seafarers?

In order to make the legislation at sea more flexible, the rules that applies to seafarers, differ from the provisions of the act in the following areas:

  • The employer determines after negotiations with the employee, when the leave is to be taken.

  • It is possible by collective agreement or by agreement between the employer and employee to agree to place the main holiday (summer holiday of three weeks) during the entire holiday year.

  • It is also possible by collective agreement or by agreement between the employer and employee to agree that annual leave is given as individual days and that leave is given on weekly days off, public holidays, collectively agreed or customary days off or compensatory days for this.

  • For seafarers domiciled outside Denmark, earned holiday allowance for unpaid leave is paid by the employer, FerieKonto or the person who administers the holiday allowance when the employment terminates.

  • Seafarer for whom a scheme with holiday payment card with a guarantee for the holiday pay has been arranged by collective agreement, as well as seafarers domiciled outside Denmark, will not have their holiday information reported to Feriepengeinfo (holiday pay info).

When has the seafarer earned rights to take annual leave?

The seafarer has earned a right to take annual leave after 1 months of employment. It is also possible to take paid holidays in advance, meaning that if the employee wants to take holidays and has not yet qualified for (a sufficient number of) paid holidays, an agreement with the employer can be made.

How many days of annual leave?

A seafarer that has worked for a full year, will have earned right to 5 weeks of annual leave.

How is the holiday allowance calculated?

In general, a seafarer accrue 12.5% of the salary in holiday allowance. If the employment is shorter than one month or if there are days during a month that the seafarer does not accrue entitlement to holiday, the seafarer accrue 0.07 days of holiday for each day of employment.

Written by: Danish Maritime Authority Updated 15.03.2021