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Organisation of hours of work on board ships using Community ports

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Organisation of hours of work on board ships using Community ports

This Directive aims to improve safety at sea, combat unfair competition from third-country shipowners and protect the health and safety of seafarers on board ships using Community ports.


Directive 1999/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 1999 concerning the enforcement of provisions in respect of seafarers' hours of work on board ships calling at Community ports.


The basic directive on various aspects of the organisation of working time provides for the replacement of the Directive's general provisions with more specific requirements. This is case for the maritime sector due to the particularly long hours of work at sea.

The current directive is designed to permit application of the provisions governing hours of work on ships * which are not flying the flag of a Member State or are not registered in the territory of a Member State.

The provisions of the directive will not apply to these ships until ILO Convention No 180 and the Protocol to ILO Convention No 147 enter into force.

Enforcement of the provisions contained in ILO Convention No 180 is monitored on the basis of:

  • a table with the shipboard working arrangements;
  • seafarers' records of hours of work and hours of rest;
  • the physical state of the seafarers (excessive fatigue as a result of excessive working hours).

The directive includes an annex with a model table with the shipboard working arrangements and a model record of hours of work and hours of rest.

A Member State that has received a complaint or obtained evidence that a ship does not conform to the existing international standards must:

  • forward a report to the government of the country in whose registry the ship is registered;
  • take all necessary measures to ensure that any conditions on board ship which are hazardous for the safety or health of seafarers are rectified.

The measures may include a ban on leaving the port until such time as the irregularities have been rectified.

In the event of failure to comply with the rules governing working hours, the competent authority * of the Member State must inform the master, the owner or operator, the administration of the flag State or the State where the ship is registered or the consul, and specify the corrective actions required.

The Member State must ensure that the ship does not leave the port until the deficiencies have been rectified.

When carrying out inspections *, Member States may not unduly delay ships.

The owner or the operator of the ship or his representative in the Member State may appeal against any detention decision. An appeal does not cause the detention to be suspended.

Member States and the competent authorities must cooperate with a view to ensuring the effective application of the directive.

The bulk of the existing measures in the field of maritime transport is derived from international standards adopted by the International Maritime Organisation and the International Labour Organisation.

In 1995 the International Maritime Organisation adopted a revised Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention), which notably provides for:

  • minimum daily rest periods of ten hours every 24 hours, which cannot be split into more than two periods, and including one consecutive six-hour period at least ;
  • weekly rest time of at least 70 hours.

Likewise, in 1996 the International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopted Convention 180 concerning seafarers' hours of work and the manning of ships and the Protocol to the Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards) Convention of 1976.

At European level, the Council has adopted Directive 1999/63/EC giving effect to the agreement between the European Shipowners' Association (ECSA) and the federation of European transport workers' trade unions (FETT) signed on 30 September 1998. This agreement concerns seafarers' hours of work on board ships flying a flag of a Member State of the European Union. It is supplemented by the current directive so as to extend its scope to third-country ships using Community ports and to ensure that all seafarers enjoy a comparable level of protection in the field of health and safety.

Key terms used in the act

  • Ship: any seagoing vessel, whether publicly or privately owned, which is ordinarily engaged in commercial maritime operations, with the exception of fishing vessels.
  • Competent authority: the authorities designated by the Member States to perform functions under this Directive.
  • Inspector: a public-sector employee or other person duly authorised by the competent authority of a Member State to inspect the working conditions on board, and responsible to that competent authority.
  • Complaint: any information or report submitted by a member of the crew, a professional body, an association, a trade union or, generally, any person with an interest in the safety of the ship, including an interest in safety or health hazards to its crew.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 1999/95/EC [adoption: codecision COD/1998/0321]



OJ L 14 of 20.01.2000

Last updated: 02.08.2005