ICS helping tackle age discrimination at sea

Paul Gunton

Paul Gunton · 17 January 2020


New guidelines published by The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and titled Guidelines for Shipowners to Avoid Age Discrimination On Board Ships aims to help eliminate a growing problem that has been recognised by the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)

“Age discrimination is a form of unfair treatment and the age gap between employees in the workplace can now be as much as 50 years,” explained Natalie Shaw, Director of Employment Affairs at the ICS. “We are seeing a changing global workforce that is continuing to work longer, yet there are still many stereotypes associated with age that can play out on board ship. This can affect not only older employees, but also the young who can suffer from age-related stereotypes at the other end of the spectrum.


“As well as avoiding legal consequences, preventing age discrimination can help ship operators to motivate and retain staff and improve the working environment on board ship, enhancing reputations as quality employers. Having different age groups in a team with shared goals can unite employees as they swap ideas, experience and knowledge.”

Under the ILO MLC, the flag state must ensure that its regulations respect the fundamental right to be free from age discrimination, which can affect the physical and emotional health of employees, decrease motivation and increase sickness rates, as well as compromising cohesive and effective teamwork.

The ICS Guidelines address different types of age discrimination, whether direct or indirect, and show how this can be avoided with respect to recruitment, training, pay and promotion, as well as redundancy and retirement.

Shaw added, “The ICS Guidelines emphasise the importance of judging people on their performance or the quality of their job applications, and seek to tackle head-on the need to avoid damaging assumptions or stereotypes that can be unfairly associated with particular age groups.”

Guidelines for Shipowners to Avoid Age Discrimination On Board Ships can be obtained free of charge from the ICS website

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