Employment in Malta is regulated through various laws, principally through the Employment and Industrial Relations Act (Cap. 452) (“EIRA”) and a number of subsidiary legislation, called wage regulation ordinances, which prescribe minimum thresholds of employment conditions and which regulate employment in particular industries and/or undertakings e.g. public transport, beverage industries and hotels.
As a general rule, the conditions specified in the EIRA or in any subsidiary legislation set out the minimum conditions. Whereas, employees may be subject to more favourable conditions than those set forth in EIRA, if a contract of service provides for any conditions of employment which are less favourable to the employee than those specified in the EIRA or any subsidiary legislation, such conditions shall have no effect.
Weekly day of rest and annual vacation leave
Full-time employees are entitled to a minimum of one day of rest in every specific calendar week and to four working weeks and four working days of vacation leave during a calendar year, calculated pro rata for employees in employment for less than twelve months during any calendar year.
Vacation leave is leave with pay which may be availed of on days agreed upon between the employer and the employee, provided that four working days during any calendar year may not form part of any shutdown and have to be granted by the employer as optional leave.
Employees are entitled to the national holidays and to all public holidays with full pay. The public and national holidays in Malta are as follows:
|1st January||New Year’s Day|
|10th February||Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck|
|19th March||Feast of St. Joseph|
|31st March||Freedom Day|
|1st May||Workers’ Day|
|7th June||Sette Giugno|
|29th June||Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul|
|15th August||Feast of the Assumption|
|8th September||Victory Day|
|21st September||Independence Day|
|8th December||Feast of the Immaculate Conception|
|13th December||Republic Day|
|25th December||Christmas Day|
A pregnant employee may apply for maternity leave for an uninterrupted period of sixteed weeks (16) with full wages as from 1 January 2012.
A pregnant employee who intends to avail herself of her maternity leave entitlement, shall as far as reasonably practicable, notify the employer in writing of the date when she intends to avail herself of such entitlement, at least four weeks before the maternity leave begins, in so far as is reasonably practicable.
A pregnant employee is entitled to time off without loss of pay or any other benefit, in order to attend antenatal examinations, if such examinations have to take place during her hours of work.
Where a female employee does not resume work, or, after having so resumed work, abandons the service of her employer without good and sufficient cause within six months from the date of such resumption, she will be liable to pay the employer a sum equivalent to the wages she received during the maternity leave.
During maternity leave, the employee will be entitled to all rights and benefits which may accrue to other employees of the same class or category of employment at the same place of work, including the right to apply for promotion opportunities at her place of work, and on return to work, she will be entitled to return to the same job. If this is no longer possible for a valid reason, the employee shall return to an equivalent work which is consistent with her original contract of employment.
During the leave the employee will have no right to any bonus or allowance related to performance or production.
Employees who have been in the employment of the same employer for a continuous period of at least twelve months, shall have the right to parental leave. Both male and female employees have the right to be granted unpaid parental leave on the following grounds:-
- adoption; or
- legal custody of a child
to enable them to take care of that child for a period of three months, to be availed of in established periods of one month each, until the child has attained the age of eight years.
Minimum Special Leave Entitlement
The Minimum Special Leave Entitlement Regulations prescribe the minimum special leave entitlements applicable to all full-time employees, as follows:
Employees are entitled to no less than the equivalent in hours of two working weeks in every year of sick leave, without loss of wages.
Each employee is entitled to one working day of bereavement leave, without loss of wages on the occasion of the death of the spouse, parent, son, daughter, brother or sister of the employee.
Each employee is entitled to two working days marriage leave, that is, leave to be granted without loss of wages on the occasion of the marriage of the employee.
Each employee is entitled to one year injury leave. This entitles the employee to leave on full wages, if the employee suffers personal injury caused by accident arising out of and in the course of his/her employment, or by any disease due to the nature of his/her work not due to any contributory negligence on his/her part or to any contravention of safety rules laid down by the management.
Jury Service Leave
Each employee is entitled to jury service leave for as long as necessary, without loss of wages.
Minimum Wage, Cost of Living Increases, Bonuses and Payment of Wages
The minimum wage for whole time employees, exclusive of bonuses and any other allowances is (as of 1 January 2012) €158.11 per week for persons aged 18 years and over, €151.33 for persons aged 17 years and €148.49 for persons under 17 years of age.
The cost of living increases are determined each year by means of a National Standard Order generally applicable to all employees.
Every whole-time employee who is employed with the same employer for more than thirty days in a particular year is entitled to bonuses amounting to €512.46 per year, payable on a quarterly basis.
Any hours of work in excess of the normal hours of work are deemed to be overtime. The main precepts governing overtime may be summarised as follows:
- no employee is required to work more than 48 hours over a seven-day period, unless the employer has first obtained the worker’s agreement to perform such work;
- no employee is to be subjected to any detriment by their employer because he/she is not willing to give his/her agreement to perform such work;
- the employer keeps up-to-date records of all workers who carry out such work, which shall include the specific number of hours to be worked by the employee, which record shall be accessible to the Director responsible for Employment and Industrial Relations. These records must be retained for at least two years from the date on which they are made;
- the employer provides the Director at his request with information on cases in which agreement has been given by workers to perform work exceeding 48 hours over a period of seven days.
Any written agreement pursuant to what is stated above may be terminable by the employee by giving no less than seven days written notice to his/her employer or any other longer period, not exceeding three months, that is stipulated in the written agreement.
The first six months of any employment under a contract of service is deemed to be probationary employment, unless otherwise agreed by both parties for a shorter probation period.
However, in the case of contracts of service in respect of employees holding technical, executive, administrative or managerial posts and whose wages are at least double the minimum wage established in that year, such probation period shall be of one year unless otherwise specified in the contract of service or in the collective agreement.
During the probationary period, either party may terminate the employment at will without reason. Provided that a week’s notice of the termination of employment has to be given to the other party in the case of an employee who has been in the employment of the same employer continuously for more than one month.
Contracts of Service
A contract of employment may be oral or written. Where the contract of services is in a written form, the contract must, as a minimum, contain the following information:
- the name, registration number and registered place of business of the employer and the identity card number, sex and address of the employee and the place of work;
- the date of commencement of employment;
- the period of probation;
- normal rates of wages payable;
- the overtime rates of wages payable;
- the normal hours of work;
- the periodicity of wage payments;
- in the case of a fixed term contract of employment, the expected or agreed duration of the contract period;
- the paid holidays, and the vacation, sick and other leave to which the employee is entitled;
- the conditions under which fines may be imposed by the employer;
- the title, grade, nature or category of the work for which the employee is employed;
- the notice periods to be observed by the employer and the employee should it be the case;
- the collective agreement, if any, governing the employee’s conditions of work; and
- any other relevant or applicable condition of employment.
In the case of an employee required to work in a country other than Malta for a period exceeding one month, the written contract or letter of engagement shall also include the following additional information:
- the duration of the employment abroad;
- the currency to be used for the payment of remuneration;
- where appropriate, the benefits in cash or kind attendant on the employment abroad; and
- where appropriate, the conditions governing the employee’s repatriation.
Where no written contract of employment has been signed between the employer and the employee, and/or where a written contract does not cover all or some of the information required to be notified to the employee by law, the employer is bound to give or send to the employee a letter of engagement or a signed statement, by not later than eight working days from the commencement of employment.
A copy of any written contract of service or statement or letter of engagement must be kept by the employer. Furthermore, every employer is bound to keep a register or registers showing, in respect of each employee:
- the name, address, sex, identity card number and date of birth of the employee;
- the occupation of the employee;
- the date of commencement of employment;
- the nature of the contract of employment namely whether the contract is of an indefinite or of a fixed duration and in the case of fixed term contracts of employment the date of termination of such contract;
- the time, paid for at ordinary time rates, during which the employee is employed;
- the time, paid for overtime or higher rates, during which the employee is employed;
- the periods of daily and weekly rest accorded to the employee;
- the total wages paid to the employee each week; and
- any change or update in the conditions of the employee’s occupational status.
Definite and Indefinite Term Contracts
A contract of service for a fixed term is deemed to be a contract of service entered into between the employer and an employee where the end of the contract is determined by reaching a specific date, by completing a specific task or conditional to the occurrence of a specific event.
Employees on a contract of service for a fixed term may not be treated in a less favourable manner than comparable permanent employees only because they have a contract of service for a fixed term. However, an employer is entitled to differentiate between the conditions of employment of an employee on a fixed term contract and a comparable employee on a contract of service for an indefinite time, if:
- the difference arises in view of the recognition of length of service, experience, qualifications or conditions of pay and work attached to the contract of service immediately preceding the contract of service for a fixed term, and such other differences as are justified on objective grounds; or
- the task for which the employee has been employed is specific or has a top management nature and includes objective considerations which justify such differentiation.
Furthermore, a contract of service for a fixed-term is automatically transformed into a contract of service for an indefinite period if:
- the employee has been continuously employed under such a contract for a fixed term, or under that contract taken in conjunction with a previous contract or contracts of service for a fixed term in excess of a period of continuous employment of four years; and
- the employer cannot provide objective reasons as provided by law to justify the limitation of a renewal of such a contract for a fixed term.
A contract of service for an indefinite time may be terminated, by giving the required notice, by the employee without assigning any reason and by the employer only on grounds of redundancy.
Notice of the termination of employment proposed either by the employer or by the employee under a contract of service for an indefinite time, should be of the following respective duration, if the employee has been in the employment of the same employer continuously –
- for more than one month but not more than six months – one week;
- for more than six months but not more than two years – two weeks;
- for more than two years but not more than four years – four weeks;
- for more than four years but not more than seven years – eight weeks;
- for more than seven years, an additional 1 week for every subsequent year of service up to a maximum of twelve weeks;
- or such longer periods as may be agreed by the employer and employee in the case of technical, administrative, executive or managerial posts.
On receiving notice from the employee, the employer shall have the option either to allow the employee to continue to perform work until the period of notice expires or, at any time during the currency of the period of notice, to pay the employee a sum equal to the wages that would have been payable in respect of the unexpired period of notice.
If an employee under a contract of service for an indefinite time fails to give notice, he will be liable to pay to the employer a sum, equal to half the wages that would be payable in respect of the period of notice. If the employer fails to give the said notice, he will be liable to pay to such employee a sum equal to the wages that would be payable in respect of the period of notice.
An employer, who dismisses an employee before the expiration of the time definitely specified by a contract of service, will have to pay to the employee one-half of the full wages that would have accrued to the employee in respect of the remainder of the time specifically agreed upon.
An employee who abandons the service of his employer before the time definitely specified by the contract of service shall pay to his employer a sum equal to one-half of the full wages to which he would have become entitled if he had continued in the service for the remainder of the time so specifically agreed upon.
In a contract of service, whether for a fixed term or for an indefinite duration, an employer may dismiss the employee and the employee may abandon the service of the employer, without giving notice and without any liability to make payment if there is good and sufficient cause for such dismissal or abandonment of service.
An employer may not set up as a good and sufficient cause –
- that the employee at the time of the dismissal was a member of a trade union, or is seeking office as, or acting or has acted in the capacity of an employees’ representative; or
- except in the case of a private domestic employee, that the employee no longer enjoys the employer’s confidence; or
- that the employee contracts marriage; or
- that an employee is pregnant with child or is absent from work during maternity leave; or
- that the employee discloses information, whether confidential or otherwise, to a designated public regulating body, regarding alleged illegal or corrupt activities being committed by his employer or by persons acting on the employer’s name and interests; or
- that the employee has filed a complaint or is participating in proceedings against the employer involving alleged violation of laws or regulations or is having recourse to competent administrative authorities; or
- that the business in which the employee is engaged has undergone a transfer of ownership, unless he proves that the termination is necessary for economic, technical or organisational reasons entailing changes in the workforce.
Focus Business Services offers a comprehensive portfolio of corporate and legal services. In the area of Employment and Labour Law, the services provided include:
- Advising on all areas of Employment Law;
- Drafting of employment agreements, contracts of service, consultancy agreements, compromise agreements, and transfer of undertaking agreements;
- Application for work permits with the Employment and Training Corporation Limited;
- Payroll services
Contact one of our officers on any Employment and Labour Issue. Simply fill in the contact box below or contact us by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling at +356 2338 1500
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