Warlike Operations Areas (WOA), High Risk Areas (HRA) and Extended Risk Zones (ERZ) – Key differences and background

In 2008 the IBF constituents introduced a set of guidelines for maritime employers and seafarers that were intended to define rights and responsibilities for both parties when dealing with the phenomenon of piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Over the years what was originally a fairly blunt instrument aimed at addressing a specific issue has morphed into a more sophisticated set of  guidelines that is now used to aid employer/employee interactions when it comes to defining terms and conditions applicable to areas that the IBF considers to pose a risk.

To be clear, the IBF does not claim to be an authority in defining the risk that specific areas around the world pose but uses experts’ recommendations to assign an appropriate level of compensation applicable to each area. The List of IBF Risk Areas is a negotiated outcome between employers and employees representatives.

The authority to amend the agreed list is delegated to the IBF Warlike Operations Committee (WOAC) which meets once a year or upon request of one of the constituent parties (JNG and ITF).

There are currently 3 levels of designation which depend on the nature and gravity of the risk:

WOA – This is the highest risk level and entails

  • bonus equal to basic wage, payable for 5 days minimum + per day if longer;
  • doubled compensations for death and disability;
  • right to refuse sailing, with repatriation at company’s cost and compensation equal to 2 month’s basic wage.

HRA – This is the next level down and the key difference from the above is that the bonus is only payable for the actual duration of the stay/transit in the area

ERZ – This is the lowest and most used definition and benefits are more targeted, crucially there is no right to refuse sailing in this area

  • bonus equal to basic wage, payable only on the day the vessel is attacked
  • doubled compensations for death and disability if it occurs on the day the vessel is attacked