Calculating Yacht Crew Leave

Calculating Yacht Crew Leave

Leave is important for the good health of the crew. But equally as important is ensuring that the crew’s leave is calculated and tracked correctly. Pay disputes due to leave calculations are fairly common see This article outlines key points to help you calculate crew leave.

Note:   For non MLC yachts there is no statutory right to earn leave.

Different Types of Crew Leave

The MLC 2006 (Amended) outlines the minimum amount of paid annual leave. This is then transferred into the Flag State Regulations and finally the Seafarer Employment Agreement (SEA). So if the SEA outlines everything the leave calculation should be simple. Unfortunately there are still some ill defined components relating to different leave types and if they accrue leave or not. 

Note: Days that do not accrue leave are called “Neutral or Nil days”. These days are generally used for days when the crew member is not working.

Leave Types 

Shore Leave 

    • Not considered as Annual Paid Leave under the MLC
    • Accrued Leave: Yes 
    • Part of the service period. Effectively considered a working day. 

Sick days.

    • Not considered as Annual Paid Leave under the MLC
    • Sick days can be complicated due to multiple factors inclueding, preexisting conditions, duration or severity of the illness or injury. In general Sick days may accrue leave.

Compassion days

    • Not considered as Annual Paid Leave under the MLC
    • Accrued Leave: No 

Unpaid days

    • Not considered as Annual Paid Leave under the MLC
    • Accrued Leave: No 

Training days

    • Accrued Leave: (Depends)
    • Training days are discretionary and would need to be defined in the individual’s SEA. 

Travel days

    • Not considered as Annual Paid Leave under the MLC. 
      • The MLC wording is a little vague. However some flag state regulations (such as Cayman Islands) clearly confirm this statement.
    • Accrued Leave: (Depends)
      • For crew on the minimum Leave allowance travel days should Accrue Leave. 
      • For crew with a generous leave allowance travel days may be Nil days. (see section below “Crew Leave – Real World Examples“)

Quarantine days

    • Check Flag Notices, the following is from Cayman Islands Guidance Notes
    • Accrued Leave: (Depends)
      • Legally imposed quarantine, away from your “agreed place of repatriation” is a work day. Therefor not considered as Annual Paid Leave under the MLC.
      • Quarantine imposed by the yacht, should be defined in the SEA and may or may not be a Nil day.


Crew Leave Calculations by Contract Type

There are effectively two types of Leave agreements. The first is “Leave days per year”, this is the most commonly used leave type. The second is based on a work / accrued ratio, work a day accrue a day (or fraction of a day). This Leave Type is used for rotational crew.

Agreement Type – Leave days per year

The agreement will state the Leave Entitlement per month or per year. For calculation purposes you will need the Leave Entitlement per day.

(Date range in days) – Nil days) X Leave earned p/d + Leave owed or Rolled over + Additional days = Accrued

Example: Leave earned 45 days p/y = 0.123 p/d days under contract (Date range) 90.5 days

(91 – 0) x 0.123 + 0 + 0 = 11.21 days


  1. Date range in days: The range of days you are calculating the leave over.
  2. Leave Owed: If you are using an Excel spreadsheet you will probably use one worksheet per year. When moving the balance over to the next work sheet this will be the “Leave Owed” column.
  3. Rolled over: SEA’s start when on the start date and leave may or may not be rolled over on the anniversary date depending on the wording of the agreement.
  4. Additional days: Additional days may be granted as bonuses or in relation to an Hours of Rest noncompliance. 

Agreement Type – Worked / Accrued

This type is used for rotational crew. The crew member only accrues leave on the days they work. The calculations for this type are based on a ratio. E.g 1:1  one day worked for one day accrued or 2:1, two days worked for one day accrued. There are a number of benefits to this type of Leave agreement. The main advantage is that it is easier to balance leave between team members and the yacht’s ever changing schedule. 

Calculating the Worked / Accrued Ratio

Leave (days p/y) / (365 – Leave (days p/y) ) = Worked / Accrued Ratio

Example: 176 Leave (days p/y): 176 / (365 – 176) = 0.931

Worked / Accrued Calculation

(Number of days worked (This year) – Work days that are Nil days) X Worked/Accrued Ratio + Leave owed or Rolled over + Additional days = Accrued


  1. Why divide the Leave days figure by (365 – Leave days)? Because the crew is only accruing leave when they work. Therefore the ratio is based on the number of days worked in a year. 365 – Leave days gives you the number of days worked.
  2. This type of Leave agreement makes it easier for balancing both members of a rotation. If a crew member has an extended period on-board, they are earning more leave. That Leave can then be balanced on the next rotation.
  3. Paying out additional days for rotational team members due to Travel / Handover days. For a 3:3 rotation you will need 6 to 7 additional days to cover Travel / Handover days. For a 3 on 3 off rotation, we suggest you do not set the ratio to 1:1  (182 days leave p/y). 
  4. Rotational Ratios – that work
    • 3 / 3  rotation: Ratio 1 : 0.93 or 1 : 0.92 (176 or 175 days leave p/y)
    • 2 / 1 rotation: Ratio 1 : 0.45 (113 days leave p/y)

Crew Leave – Real World Examples

Unfortunately the real World can be messy when it comes to crew leave. Below are some examples for leave scenarios which can be tricky when using spreadsheets

  1. Changing contract Leave Types. The following is a first mate SEA’s agreement
    • Start date 13th Oct – Probation period (90 days)
    • Leave During Probation: 
      • Leave days per year 45 day p/y
      • Travel days are not Nil days
    • Probation ends 11th Jan – Change to Rotational position
    • Full time Leave Agreement – Rotational
      • Worked / Accrued, ratio 1:0.92
      • Travel days are Nil days
    • The issue: Changing contract leave types in the middle of a month
  2. Anniversary date – Zero Leave Rollover for each crew member.
    • Start date 10th June 2021 – Anniversary 10th June 2022
    • Crew member starts a rotation leave period 1st May – 1st Aug 2022
    • The issue: Zeroing out all accrued leave on the anniversary date (a Zero Leave Rollover) in the middle of  a Leave period
  3. Training or Tracking Flight allowances
    • The issue: These allowances need to be individually tracked over the crew members contractually period not Jan – Dec
  4. Large rotational crew logistics
    • The issues:
      • Tracking bunk capacity by department
      • Tracking Inbound / Outbound crew dates with flight details
      • Minimising Hand over periods

In summary

Superyacht crew leave calculations can be rather complex. These calculations are commonly handled by Captains and Pursers, using excel spreadsheets. Although excel is a great product it can not perform all the required calculations, easily. Generally this means manual calculations still have to be carried out, opening the yacht up to errors and potentially pay disputes. 


Reference material

MLC 2006 Amendments (2014)


Cayman Islands Guidance Notes