What information is an employer in Malta bound to furnish an employee upon commencement of employment?
If no written agreement is entered into between the employer and the employee, the employer is bound to furnish the employee with a letter of engagement or a signed statement, by not later than eight working days from the commencement of employment containing the following information:
- the name, registration number and registered place of business of the employer and a legally valid identification document number, sex and address of the employee and the place of work. In the absence of a fixed place of work it should be stated that the employee will be employed at various places together with the registered place of business;
- 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.
How long is the probationary period?
Probationary period is of six months, unless a shorter period is agreed upon between the employer and employee. In the case 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.
Can the employment relationship be terminated during the probationary period?
During the probationary period the employment may be terminated at will by either party without assigning any reason. Provided that a week’s notice of the termination of employment shall 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.
Can a fixed term contract be terminated?
A Fixed Term Contract can be terminated during its applicable probation period without assigning any reason. However, one week notice (by either party) applies if the employment exceeds one month.
Where there is not a justified reason to terminate an employment that is on definite basis after the probation period, the party who breaches the contract is liable to pay the other party a sum equal to one-half of the full wages that would have accrued had the contract of employment remained in force.
In situations of redundancy at the place of work, employees on fixed term contracts are also affected by the procedures of last in/first out in the same category, as other employees on indefinite contracts. Employees who are so affected by redundancy are entitled to be paid compensation as indicated in the paragraph above.
Can an indefinite contract be terminated?
A contract of service for an indefinite time may be terminated, by giving notice as set out in paragraph 14 below, by the employee without assigning any reason and by the employer, (save for dismissal for good and sufficient cause), only on grounds of redundancy.
Any employee whose employment is terminated on grounds of redundancy shall be entitled to re-employment if the post formerly occupied by him is again available within a period of one year from the date of termination of employment. The said employee shall be so re-employed at conditions not less favourable than those to which he would have been entitled if the contract of service relating to him had not been terminated.
Where an employer intends to terminate the employment of an employee on grounds of redundancy, he shall terminate the employment of that person who was engaged last in the class of employment affected by such redundancy. However in the case where such person is related to the employer (not being a limited liability company or a statutory body) by consanguinity or affinity up to the third degree, the employer may, instead of terminating the employment of such person, terminate that of the person next in turn.
What are the normal hours of work in Malta?
The normal hours of work for full-time employment and the maximum hours for part-time work vary according to the relevant sector of industry. Generally, the normal hours of work (excluding overtime) should not exceed a maximum of an average of 48 hours a week spread over a reference period of 17 weeks.
An employer can ask an employee to work more than an average of 48 hours per week. However in such a case, a written consent is required from the employee concerned. If an employee does not give his/her consent, the employer can neither force nor victimize that particular employee as a consequence of his/her refusal. On the other hand, if the consent is given, the employer has to ensure that the employee is given the daily rest and weekly rest periods due as established by law.
If an employee consents to work for more than an average of 48 hours per week, the employee can demand that the consent will be withdrawn. This can be done through written notice which is given to the employer. Notice must be given at least seven days before the withdrawal of the consent or at such longer periods, not exceeding three months, as may be agreed between the parties.
If the employee has not consented to work over an average of 48 hours a week, the maximum working hours including overtime shall not exceed such an average when calculated over a reference period, usually of 17 weeks. It is important to clarify that if an employee who normally works on a 40 hour week is asked to perform overtime, such overtime may be of more than 8 hours in a particular week, provided that the provisions at law regarding daily rest and weekly rest periods are observed.
What constitutes night work in terms of Maltese law?
Night work is working time that includes more than 50% (or a lower proportion as provided for in collective agreement) of the annual working time between 22.00hrs and 06.00hrs, or at least three hours of the daily working time as a normal course during night time (between 22.00hrs and 06.00hrs).
A night worker’s normal hours of work shall not exceed an average of eight hours in any 24-hour period. Such average should be calculated over a reference period of 17 weeks or as specified in an applicable collective agreement.
If a risk assessment, which the employer is obliged to carry out, reveals special hazards, apart from the employer being obliged to take the necessary measures to ensure that the worker concerned undergoes a suitable health assessment to determine the worker’s health status, the working hours of the employee, including night hours, should not exceed 8 hours of work in any period of 24 hours.
If a registered medical practitioner informs the employer that the employee is suffering from a health condition which is connected to night work, the employer should, if possible, transfer the employee to more suitable work during daytime.
In cases where night work is regular, the employer is obliged to keep records related to night work.
What are the rest periods which must be granted to an employee?
Where the working day is longer than six hours, an employee is entitled to not less than fifteen minutes of rest, unless a longer period of rest is provided by any other regulation or agreement.
The employer is not obliged to pay the rest break since it is not considered as working time.
Every worker is entitled to a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours.
Every worker is entitled to an uninterrupted weekly rest period of 24 hours in addition to the 11 hours daily rest within a seven day period, or 48 consecutive hours in a period of fourteen days in addition to the 11 hours daily rest.
As a general rule, the daily and weekly rest periods are compulsory. However, in certain circumstances specified by the law, there may be the possibility for a worker not to take the full rest period, provided that equivalent compensatory rest periods are given to the worker concerned at times immediately following the corresponding periods worked.
It is noteworthy that no rest period can be substituted by monetary compensation.
What are the applicable rules on overtime?
Overtime rates in most sectors are regulated by the respective Wage Regulation Order (WRG). In such cases where an employee’s overtime rate is not covered by a WRO, he/she shall be paid one and a half times the normal rate for work carried out in excess of a forty hour week, averaged over a 4-week period or over a shift cycle at the discretion of the employer.
Pay packages which include an unknown amount of overtime are not in conformity with the Information to Employees Regulations, in which there is specified that the employer has to inform the employee of the normal rates of wages payable and the normal hours of work.
A contract of employment may, apart from specifying the basic wage, also contain a clause specifying that an allowance of ‘X’ euro is paid in respect of up to ‘Y’ number of hours worked in excess of the normal working week. Such overtime may exceed 8 hours in a particular week provided that on average the 48 hour maximum is not exceeded.
Can an employee refuse to work overtime?
An employee may choose not to work over an average of 48 hours a week. An employer however can oblige an employee to work overtime when (i) the total hours of work do not exceed an average of 48 hours a week, and (ii) when an employee has consented in writing to work over such an average.
It is noteworthy that in accordance with the Protection of Maternity (Employment) Regulations, notwithstanding anything stated to the contrary in any other law, regulation, collective agreement or in any contract of service, employees shall not be obliged to work overtime under the following situations:
- during pregnancy;
- for a period of twelve months from either the birth of her child or from the effective date of the adoption of a child.
How many days are allowed for vacation leave?
In terms of Maltese law, an employee working 40 hours per week is entitled to 192 hours of paid annual leave (that is at least the equivalent in hours of four (4) weeks and four (4) working days calculated on the basis of a 40-hour working week, and an 8-hour working day. If the average normal hours (excluding overtime) calculated over a period of 17 weeks is below or exceeds 40 hours per week, the vacation leave entitlement in hours should be adjusted accordingly. (see L.N. 247 of 2003 – Organisation of Working Time Regulations).
Vacation leave starts to accumulate as from commencement of employment. It can be availed of in agreement between the employer and the employee. When an employee is in employment for less than 12 months, s/he shall be entitled to a proportionate amount of annual leave. Leave has to be availed of in agreement with the employer. The application for leave has to be approved by the employer before an employee can proceed with leave.
By mutual agreement with the employer, leave can be taken in hours. Otherwise, if there is no agreement between the employer and the employee, leave has to be availed of as a whole day.
In the case of annual leave which is not availed of, Maltese law specifies that a minimum period equivalent to four weeks (160 hours) cannot be replaced by any allowance, except where the worker’s employment is terminated. Therefore in respect of the 160 hours that cannot be compensated for, the employee cannot claim payment. It is only possible to carry forward up to 50% of the annual leave entitlement to the following year if there is an agreement with the employer.
Upon termination from employment, an employee has the right to claim financial compensation for any balance of outstanding leave that is due.
How many days are allowed for sick leave?
Sick leave varies substantially according to the relevant Wage Regulation Order that regulates the specific sector of industry. Where the type of activity of work is not regulated by any W.R.O., the sick leave entitlement of an employee amounts to two working weeks per year (calculated in hours).
In order to avail of sick leave, a medical certificate has to be presented to the employer. If the absence from work is not covered by a medical certificate, other arrangements (like applying for leave) have to be sought. The employer is only required to issue wages for the amount of sick leave entitlement provided by law. If an employee remains sick after having exhausted all the sick leave entitlement, s/he will only continue to receive the Sickness benefit from the Social Security to which s/he may be entitled.
How many weeks are allowed for maternity leave?
An employee is entitled to maternity leave for an uninterrupted period of eighteen (18) weeks. The first fourteen (14) weeks are paid by the employer. Payment of the additional four (4) weeks is granted in accordance with the Social Security Act.
In order to avail of maternity leave the employee must notify her employer in writing at least four weeks before its commencement of the date when she intends to avail herself of such entitlement, in so far as is reasonably practicable. The employee is obliged to avail herself of six (6) weeks of the total entitlement immediately after the date of confinement. Another four (4) weeks are to be taken immediately before the expected date of confinement, unless agreed otherwise between the employer and the employee. The remaining balance of entitlement to be availed of, in whole or in part may be taken, either immediately before or immediately after the aforementioned periods, as the employee may decide.
On termination of maternity leave, the employee has the right to resume work in the post formerly occupied on the commencement of the maternity leave and if such post is no longer available, to a related post.
What are the applicable notice periods for termination of an indefinite contract of employment?
The notice period for termination of an indefinite contract of employment is calculated on the basis of the employee’s length of service with the employer.
- Not more than one month – No notice
- More than one month and up to six months – One week
- More than six months and up to two years – Two weeks
- More than two years and up to four years – Four weeks
- More than four years and up to seven years – Eight weeks
- More than seven years and up to eight years – Nine weeks
- More than eight years and up to nine years – Ten weeks
- More than nine years and up to ten years – Eleven weeks
- More than ten years – Twelve weeks
Longer periods may be agreed by the employer and employee in the case of technical, administrative, executive or managerial posts.
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.
May compensation be granted to an employee in lieu of notice?
When the employee abandons employment and/or fails to give notice s/he shall 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 that is not worked.
If the employee while working the notice decides not to continue to work the notice period, s/he is also liable to pay to the employer a sum equal to half the wages that would be payable in respect of the unexpired period of notice.
If on giving notice or while working the notice, the employer decides not to allow the employee to work or continue to work the notice, the employer will be obliged to pay to the employee a sum equal to the full wages that would be payable in respect of the unexpired period of notice.
On receiving notice from the employer, the employee has the option to either continue to work the notice period, or to request the employer to pay him/her a sum equal to half the wages that would be payable in respect of the unexpired period of notice.
If the employee decides to terminate employment at any time while working the notice, the employer is also obliged to pay the employee a sum equal to half the wages that would be payable in respect of the unexpired period of notice.
If the employer decides not to allow the employee to work or not to continue to work the notice, the employer is obliged to pay to the employee a sum equal to the full wages that would be payable in respect of the unexpired period of notice.
In any case, notice which is due in terms of law is waived when there is a good and sufficient cause (eg. Disciplinary action, medical condition).
What constitutes collective redundancy in terms of Maltese law?
Collective redundancy is the termination of the employment by an employer on grounds of redundancy, over a period of thirty days, of:
- 10 or more employees in establishments normally employing 20 to 99 employees;
- 10% or more of the number of employees in establishments employing 100 to 299 employees; and
- 30 or more in establishments employing 300 employees or above
Does Maltese law recognise banking hours?
Yes. An employer in any sector (be it covered by a Wage Regulation Order or otherwise) may introduce schemes to bank hours, whereby up to 376 hours of the normal annual working hours in each calendar year may be banked, thus allowing extra hours over and above the normal weekly working hours to be worked during periods of higher work activity which would be redeemed during periods of lower activity by having working hours below the normal weekly working hours. Notwithstanding the latter, the average weekly working time, including overtime, shall not exceed an average of 48 hours over the applicable reference period in terms of the Organization of Working Time Regulations, unless the employee concerned has given his/her consent in writing to work more than a weekly average of 48 hours.
The hours of work which may be banked shall be limited to those hours on any day in a week which attract the normal hourly rate of payment. Similarly any hours of work which have been banked in order to be utilized during weeks of lower work activity, shall only be so utilized on a weekly day of work where the hours of work are paid at a normal rate. Moreover, the parties may also agree to include hours which attract a special rate of pay and in this respect, the hours to be banked shall reflect such special hourly rate of pay.
Do employees in Malta get paid on public/national holidays?
Yes. There are the following fourteen paid holidays in a year:
|1st January||New Year’s Day|
|10th February||Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck|
|19th March||Feast of St. Joseph|
|1st May||Workers’ Day|
|29th June||Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul|
|15th August||Feast of the Assumption|
|8th December||Feast of the Immaculate Conception|
|25th December||Christmas Day|
|31st March||Freedom Day|
|7th June||Sette Gugno|
|8th September||Feast of Our Lady of Victories|
|21st September||Independence Day|
|13th December||Republic Day|
Does Maltese law recognise the concept of posted workers?
Yes. Posting of Workers in Malta is regulated by Legal Notice 430 of 2002 – Posting of Workers in Malta Regulations. These regulations apply to foreign undertakings which:
- send posted employees in Malta on their account and under their direction, under a contract concluded between the undertaking making the posting and the party for whom the services are intended, provided there is an employment relationship between the undertaking making the posting and the worker during the period of posting; or
- send posted employees to an establishment or to an undertaking in Malta which is owned by the foreign undertaking, provided there is an employment relationship between the undertaking making the posting and the worker during the period of posting; or
- being temporary employment undertakings or placement agencies, hire out a worker to a user undertaking established or operating in Malta, provided there is an employment relationship between the temporary employment undertaking, or placement agency, and the worker during the period of posting.