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Working in Malta
The lowdown on labour laws, leave entitlement and work benefits
Employment contracts are full-time or part-time contracts for an indefinite period, sometimes called a permanent contract, or fixed term, temporary employment contracts. Latest trends in the employment market show that fixed term contracts are becoming more common in both higher managerial grades and in skilled labour for project contracts.
It is possible for an employer to offer several fixed term contracts in succession but there has to be an acceptable explanation for this. The full adoption of European directives implies that after a certain number of years (according to Maltese law, it shall not exceed four years) a temporary employment contract has to be converted to a fixed employment contract and therefore the employee would then be engaged on a permanent basis.
A trial period can be agreed upon at the beginning of the employment relationship. The trial period can be of six months at the maximum which can go up to one year for high profile jobs. During the first month of the trial period, either party can terminate the employment contract without giving notice. Subsequently one week’s notice must be given to terminate the employment contract during the trial period.
Conclusion of employment contracts
Employment in Malta always involves an employment contract whereby the employee agrees to perform specified work for an employer in return for agreed salaries. A written statement showing the conditions of employment shall be given to the employee not later than eight days after engagement. Employment may be for a fixed term or for an indefinite term and on a full time or part time basis. Whichever type of employment you are engaged in, carefully check the terms and conditions of employment in order to ensure that you fully understand your rights and obligations.
The frequency of salary payments varies with the nature of the job. Employees are likely to receive their salaries directly into a bank account.
If an employee’s employment is terminated on grounds of redundancy, that employee will be entitled to re-employment if the post he/she formerly occupied is again available within a period of one year from the date of termination of employment. When an employer intends to terminate the employment of an employee on grounds of redundancy, the employer shall terminate the employment on the grounds of last in first out. Temporary and fixed term employment contracts expire when the specified period ends without a notice of termination being given. Any employee on a fixed term contract of service whose contract has expired and is retained by his/her employer shall be assumed to be retained on an indefinite period contract if the said employee is not given a new contract of service within the first 12 working days following the expiry of the previous contract.
Weekly working time
A full time employee in Malta is required to work 40 hours per week. According to legislation, every worker is entitled to a rest break when the working day is longer than six hours, a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24 hour period, and a minimum uninterrupted weekly rest period of 24 hours.
Overtime, defined as working hours over and above the normal working time, must not on average exceed the maximum working time laid down by employment law which is of an average of 48 hours per week, unless the employee voluntarily consents to work for longer periods.
Actual working hours vary by sector.
Employees in full-time employment on a 40 hour week are entitled to 200 hours of vacation leave per year. Part-timers’ leave entitlement is calculated on a pro-rata basis. Vacation leave can be utilised as agreed with the employer.
An employee may apply for maternity leave for an uninterrupted period of 18 weeks (14 weeks full pay; 4 weeks allowance which is unpaid unless the employee would have paid for at least 1 year’s Social Security National Insurance, in such case she would be entitled to the Social Security Maternity Leave Grant). The employee has to notify the employer before the maternity leave begins, in so far as is reasonably practicable.
Parental leave is the individual right of both male and female workers to be granted unpaid parental leave on the grounds of birth, adoption or legal custody of a child to enable them to take care of that child for a period of four months until the child has attained the age of eight years. In the event that the parental leave was not availed of or there is still an existing balance of parental leave, an employee will not be entitled to such leave if there is a change in the employer or in the employment of the employee.
Employees must notify the employer as soon as possible when they fall ill. A doctor’s certificate is required. Employees are entitled to salaries during illness according to Maltese law or applicable collective agreements. When the sick leave entitlement is exhausted the employer is no longer obliged to pay salaries. The employee is entitled to sickness benefits from the Social Security Department. Entitlement from Social Security is applicable after the third day of Sick Leave and upon presentation of a medial certificate to Social Security Services within 10 days.
Employers are bound by law to grant to every employee a minimum total of 15 hours with pay per year as time off from work for urgent family matters. The total number of hours availed of by the employee for urgent family reasons shall be deducted from the annual leave entitlement of the employee. The employer shall have the right to establish the maximum number of hours of time off from work in each particular case, save that the minimum time should not be less than one hour per case unless there is the specific agreement with the employee. The employer shall have the right to demand such evidence as may be necessary to verify and confirm the request for urgent leave by the employee.
End of employment
Employment may be terminated if the employer has a serious reason for ending an employment relationship. This reason may concern the individual staff member, or it may be collective, pertaining to financial or operational difficulties. These include reduction in workload for economic reasons or production-related causes. A company buyout does not entitle the employer to redundancies. Employment can be terminated due to serious misdemeanours.
The employer must inform the employee some time before the employment ends. Unless otherwise agreed, this period of notice depends on how long the employment has lasted.
The staff member may terminate employment at any time, and unless otherwise agreed the period of notice is from one week to twelve weeks, depending on the duration of employment.