Obligation to facilitate in the event of illness

  • Published: 24/10/2016

The company has a general obligation to adapt the arrangement of the work on board to each individual's qualifications and abilities. This follows from requirements laid down in the Ship Safety and Security Act.

Photo of seafarers on deck
Seafarers on deck
PHOTO: Fotokonkurransen for sjøfolk

Facilitation is relevant in cases where the RGP has granted graded sickness benefit (partial sickness benefit). However, the RGP does not have the authority to decide the extent of the company's obligation to facilitate. In practice, this means that the employee will need to be granted 100% sickness benefit if the company cannot arrange for a reduced workload for the employee or for tasks adapted to the illness.

The Ship Safety and Security Act lays down requirements for the ship as a workplace, and provides rules on facilitation for each individual. Section 22 of the Ship Safety and Security Act requires that the work on board shall be arranged so that due regard is paid to the individual person's qualifications to undertake the work in a safe and proper manner. This also means that the obligation to facilitate work does not go beyond what is justifiable in terms of safety.

All employees on ships shall have a valid medical certificate. In the event of graded sickness benefit, both the employee and the employer have a duty to consider whether the health requirements are still satisfied. If in doubt, the employee's health should be re-examined by a seafarer's doctor.

What does the obligation to facilitate mean for the company?

If the employee has been granted graded sickness benefit, but still has his or her medical certificate, the company should consider whether arrangements could be made so that the employee may carry on working in the sickness benefit period. If the company cannot facilitate this, the solution is, as mentioned above, 100% sickness benefit.

The NMA's regulations do not regulate how the company is to solve this issue in practice, and the company needs to conduct a concrete evaluation of the best solution in each individual case. The facilitation should pay due regard to the employee's qualifications and abilities to carry out the tasks in a safe and proper manner, and the employee's competence, experience and physical, mental and health-related preconditions, among other things, should be taken into account. The facilitation could also mean redeployment to another capacity in the company.

Special provisions regarding facilitation for minimum safe manning

If the employee forms part of the minimum safe manning on board, graded sickness benefit will, as a main rule, be out of the question due to safety-related considerations. This is because the persons forming part of the minimum safe manning on board are required to be able to carry out their safety function during both working and rest periods. When the illness is of such a character that the employee cannot be in a state of preparedness during rest periods, the employee cannot form part of the minimum safe manning due to safety-related concerns.

What does this mean for you as an employee?

If you are granted partial sickness benefit, you need to contact the company and clarify whether facilitation is possible. If the company considers it unjustifiable in terms of safety that you work on board during the sickness benefit period, you need to contact your RGP to be granted full sickness benefit.

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