Maersk’s unpopular shore leave directives likely to end up in court

Maersk’s controversial shore leave directives during the pandemic are likely to end up in court.

The Danish Maritime Authority wrote to the nation’s largest shipping line late last month, warning Maersk it had violated local regulations as well as the Maritime Labour Convention by banning all shore leave for crew on Danish-flagged ships in the wake of the detection of the first cases of the omicron variant of Covid-19. Maersk got away with just a warning and no fine. However, the Danish arm of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) intends to take the matter to a local labour court, seeking compensation.

The issue was first brought to light thanks to the intervention of the Danish officers’ union, Metal Maritime, forcing Maersk to withdraw its shore leave ban in the middle of last month.

As much of the world tries to get back to normal post-Covid life, shore leave is becoming more commonplace finally.

Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports, now allows shore leave for crews, effective from the start of this month, albeit proof of full vaccination and a negative antigen rapid test within the previous 48 hours are required.

The International Chamber of Shipping has just updated its advice for shore leave during the coronavirus pandemic, a document which contains information on the international maritime obligations surrounding the provision of shore leave by state authorities and shipowners, and for seafarers. It is available here.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Seafarers, in last couple of decades have been treated unfairly by all concerned, leading to mental and emotional fatigue

    No intelligent person wants to get into sailing profession due to lack of facilities and to avoid third class treatment

    1. No worries! Milion India and Sri Lanka waiting on the line to come at sea.
      Enjoy your life

  2. Yes, but Singapore is asking 1500S$ for that escapade. Be well informed before you start writing stuff. I arrived today in Singapore and no shore leave is possible if doctor with test does not come on board and before you enter port afterwards. For that service you need those 1500 to pay.

  3. Seafarers onboard ships from reputable large companies are still being denied Shore Leave here on the West Coast USA despite having Visas, Shore passes issued by the US Customs and Border Patrol and Vaccines! Some companies are still forcing the Masters to implement Covid-19 policies that were written 2 years ago. I hope this latest effort by the ICS giving guidelines will help. Thanks to the Danish ITF affiliate for pushing back. We have had 5 suicides by Seafarers while their ships were in Port here on the West Coast in the last 5 months. Shore Leave is a right not a privilege. Some companies are using Covid-19 as an excuse to avoid any Shore Leave at all for the Hard-Working Seafarers , and that is border-line criminal… Jeff Engels ITF Coordinator West Coast USA

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