At what time should the calculation and recording of hours of rest start?

The master or authorised person must monitor and record the hours of rest in every 24-hour and 168-hour (7-day) period.

The 24-hour period is a person’s working day, which commences the first time the seafarer starts to work (first watch) on a calendar day and ends at the same time the next day. In other words, the first hours of rest to be recorded are the hours of rest following the first work period.

The total hours of rest during a 24-hour period must be at least 10 hours calculated from the time you go on duty and 24 hours forward in time, or from the time you go off duty and 24 hours back in time.

If the seafarer works every day in a period of 7 days, the average hours of rest must be at least 11 hours, cf. the Ship Safety and Security Act section 24, which sets out the requirement that the hours of rest shall be no less than 77 hours in any 168-hour period.

The registration must be based on the actual rest period of the individual employee and consequently correspond with the record keeping of the working hours.

What is meant by "any 24-hour period"?

The Ship Safety an Security Act § 24 provides that hours of rest must not be less than ten hours “in any 24-hour period”. Thus, any 24-hour period – starting at any moment during a day – must comprise at least ten hours of rest.

May the parties enter into an agreement to reduce the minimum requirement for hours of rest (10 hours)?

No. Under certain conditions, exceptions may be made from the main provision concerning reduction of the weekly rest period and division of the 24-hour rest period into several periods, but the total hours of rest in any 24-hour period shall not be less than 10 hours, and one period shall be at least 6 hours in length.

The Ship Safety and Security Act section 24 fourth paragraph states for which personnel, conditions and limitations exceptions may be made from the main provision in collective bargaining agreements. Agreements have to be in writing and signed by both parties.

Does the term “hours of rest” include short breaks?

No, “hours of rest” does not include short breaks. Hours of rest are a continuous period of at least one hour outside working hours that the employee is free to use.

The term “working hours” must be understood as the time spent carrying out practical work or the time where the employee is required to carry out duties, typically in a watch scheme. Even though you have few duties during a watch, the entire watch will be considered working hours. Lunch breaks are not included in the hours of rest.

Does the minimum hours of rest requirements apply to the ship's masters?

Yes. Ships’ masters are seafarers and, as such, the requirements on hours of rest also apply to them.

Does a 6/6 watch schedule comply with the provisions relating to hours of rest?

Basically yes, based on the requirement that at least one of the rest periods during a 24-hour period must amount to at least 6 hours. The two-watch scheme has been employed for a long time in the shipping industry. The traditional sea watch system was the 6/6 watch schedule, i.e. six hours on duty followed by six hours off twice a day.

The 6/6 watch system is still internationally accepted, but it is subject to debate due to more recent knowledge about factors leading to fatigue. The reason is that it is difficult to get at least 6 hours of continuous sleep, since handing over a watch takes 5–10 minutes, and it also takes time to come to rest in the cabin. Our sleeping hours and need for sleep vary. Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night. Getting less than the ideal amount of sleep over time increases the risk of accumulating sleep deprivation.

The watch system is chosen dependent on area, vessel type and which operations the ship carries out. The 6-6-6-6 watch schedule is well-known in the offshore industry, but “new” watch schedules are getting more popular on two-watch vessels, particularly the 12-12 and 8-4-4-8 schemes.

The guidance “Hours of rest in the shipping industry” explains why getting an adequate amount of sleep is essential to safety at sea and important when planning hours of work and rest. You can find the guidance here.

Do I need to use the standard form KS-0300 to record the hours of rest?

No, but if the shipping company wants another design/format, the content must be based on the standard form KS-0300, which is established by the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) and follows EU standard with regard to international controls.

Can rest hour data be recorded and kept electronically on board?

Yes. It is for the shipping company to decide which system to use. The company will not inform the NMA of their decision, but the electronic registration systems used must comply with the registration and control requirements, so that the hours of rest in any period of 24 hours and 7 days (168 hours), respectively, appear clearly and concisely.

Any person with legal interest shall have the opportunity to become acquainted with the contents and have a printout. The NMA may require that data be submitted in a particular format.

Shall the seafarer always receive a signed copy of the records of the hours of rest?

Yes. Each month and at the time of termination of the service, the employee shall receive a copy of the rest hour records pertaining to him or her, signed by the master, or a person authorised by the master, and by the employee. In case of an electronic signature, a printout is sufficient, but it must be evident that the master, or a person authorised by the master, and the employee have signed electronically.

For how long must the hours of rest forms be kept?

Registration forms for rest periods shall be kept on board for at least 6 months after they have been completed. Additionally, registration forms shall be kept by the shipping company for a minimum of 3 years after being completed, cf. section 12 of the Regulations on hours of work and rest on board Norwegian passenger and cargo ships, etc.

What are the maximum hours of work?

The provisions for hours of rest that ensure a minimum amount of rest also provide limitations to the maximum working hours on a daily and weekly basis.

This follows from the Ship Safety and Security Act section 24 (main provision), which stipulates that the hours of rest shall not be less than 10 hours in any 24-hour period. Consequently, the hours of work shall not exceed 14 hours during the same period.

Furthermore, it is set out in the main provision that the minimum hours of rest shall be no less than 77 hours in any 168-hour period (i.e. one week). This means that an average of 11 hours of rest, corresponding to an average of 13 hours of work in the same period.

Moreover, the main provision stipulates that the intervals between two consecutive periods of rest shall not exceed 14 hours. That implies that the maximum duration of continuous work cannot exceed 14 hours.

Could seafarers be required to participate in drills during their scheduled hours of rest?

Yes. Scheduled hours of rest may be postponed/interrupted in situations concerning the ship's safety, including work resulting from musters or drills required by or pursuant to law. Drills often involve the entire crew, which will have an impact on the individual’s hours of rest due to the fact that the working hours arrangement most commonly is a watch system. That means that there is always someone having their off-time/hours of rest. Musters and drills must nevertheless be scheduled and conducted in a manner that minimises the disturbance of rest periods and does not induce fatigue. The heads of department on board must be careful to ensure that it is not always the same people who need to participate in drills during their scheduled hours of rest. Any interference with the hours of rest, including work resulting from musters or required drills, shall be recorded in the registration form for hours of rest. Use the comments box to clarify the reason.

What should be specified in the registration form for rest periods if I am called up during my off-time?

Only the actual hours of rest are to be recorded in the form in arrears and be included in the total hours of rest during a 24-hour period. This means that interruptions in the scheduled hours of rest must appear from the registration and guarantee that seafarers who have been on standby are granted appropriate hours of rest in compensation.

The same applies to seafarers on call, for instance when a machinery space is unattended. In such cases, the seafarer must have an adequate compensatory rest period if the normal period of rest is disturbed by call-outs to work.

Consequently, care should be taken to ensure that the minimum hours of rest for a seafarer are not less than 10 hours in any 24-hour period, even if a scheduled rest period is disturbed. As a consequence of call-outs during off-time, the hours of rest may be divided into no more than two periods. The hours of rest lost when called out cannot always be fully compensated for. The master must then, in dialogue with the employee concerned, determine the necessary compensation.

Are seafarers allowed to work on public holidays?

Yes. According to the Norwegian Act relating to ship safety and security section 23, there shall be one day of rest per week and rest on public holidays. The parties may, however, enter into individual agreements regulating the hours of work and rest differently, provided that the minimum requirements for daily and weekly rest are met. Agreements have to be in writing and signed by both parties. The term “official holidays” refers to Saturdays, Sundays and Norwegian public holidays. Easter Eve, Whit Eve, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve from 15:00 to 24:00 are equivalent to Saturdays. This provision does not apply to public holiday in other countries, for instance if the vessel is at berth in another country, or other holidays applicable to non-Norwegian crew members.

Are all crew members on small workboats required to record and document hours of rest?

This is determined by the working arrangement or tasks of the employee in question. Personnel who are employed as seafarers and have an employment agreement on the NMA’s form, must comply with the provisions of the Regulations on hours of work and rest on board Norwegian passenger and cargo ships, etc. regarding the recording of hours of rest.

If work is performed by personnel who are not employed as seafarers and whose working conditions are supervised by the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority, the employees do not fall within the scope of the NMA’s administrative area. They are therefore not bound by the NMA’s legislation regarding recording and documentation of hours of rest.

Should hours of work and rest on board different vessels be added up?

Yes. The provisions on hours of rest are protective provisions to ensure that each employee gets sufficient sleep, and to prevent fatigue. If you are employed  in a permanent or temporary position on board different vessels within periods of 24 or 168 hours, the hours of rest shall still amount to at least 10 a day or 77 a week, calculated from the time you started working on the first vessel.

Situations where persons work on different ships within a limited period of time probably more commonly occur on small vessels engaged on short voyages.

Reference is made to section 4 (Working hours) of the Regulations on hours of work and rest on Norwegian passenger and cargo ships, etc., which contains a special provision for passenger ships engaged on regular domestic scheduled voyages with shift or watch systems and other ships of less than 300 gross tonnage. In this context, the regular working hours may be exceeded, however not to the extent that the total number of working hours during a period of 12 weeks exceed an average of 56 hours a week.

The total hours of work refer to the individual employee's total hours of work, regardless of whether this person works on board different vessels during the 12-week period.