Engagement of Employees
Under Maltese Law, employees are engaged under a contract of service, this being valid whether made in writing or verbally. If made verbally, at law it is the duty of the employer to give the employee a written statement with the following details:
- commencement date;
- probationary period;
- hours of work;
- job title and nature of work;
- salary (including overtime rates) and date when this falls due;
- entitlements to paid holidays, sick leave and special leave;
- duration, if employment is of a definite period;
- applicable notice periods; and
- the imposition of any penalties.
Any written contract between the employer and employee should also include the above details.
The law does not require the employer to provide the employee with a job description. Nevertheless, it is advisable to do so, to reduce the possibility of future disputes. The employee’s actual work should reflect his job title and description.
The law establishes a period of “probation” during the initial 6 to 12 months of employment, as applicable. The intention is to allow the employer to assess whether the employee is suitable for the job and for the employee to decide whether the job is suitable for him. During the probationary period, termination is possible by either party without having to assign any reason therefor. If termination occurs after the first month of employment, a 1 week notice period is to be respected.
Hours of Work
The law makes specific provision for the normal hours of work for a full-time employee. As a general rule, the normal hours of work should be of a maximum of an average of 48 hours a week within a reference period of 17 weeks. Variations and exceptions to his rule may apply either generally or on a sector-specific basis. Employers are also obliged to ensure that the hours of work of part-time employees do not exceed given limits.
Employers are obliged at law to fulfil certain conditions with respect to their employees in terms of the following:
- daily and weekly rest periods;
- night work;
- the possibility of shift work;
- the possibility of reduced hours of work and of telework.
The law makes provision for a statutory period of vacation leave of 24 days in any given year. Statutory sick leave is of 10 days each year, however this may vary according to that provided in the relevant Wage Regulation Order that regulates the specific sector of industry. Employers are also obliged to provide their employees with the minimum statutory leave in the event of marriage, maternity, birth, injury or bereavement, as well as abide by the relevant laws for parental leave, urgent family leave, court witness leave and jury service leave.
National and Public Holidays
All employees are entitled to a day off on the 14 Maltese national and public holidays, where these fall on a working day, or compensation for work performed on such days.
Termination of Employment
Following the probationary period, an employer may only terminate an employment contract of indefinite duration in the event of redundancy or due to good and sufficient cause. The employee may terminate such contract by resigning. In all such cases with the exception of the instance of good and sufficient cause, the law stipulates the minimum applicable notice periods that are to apply. The law allows for the possibility of longer periods as agreed between the employer and employee in the case of technical, administrative, managerial or executive staff. It also allows for the payment of compensation in lieu of notice.
Following the probationary period, an employer may terminate an employment contract of definite duration due to redundancy or due to good and sufficient cause. The employee may also choose to resign. No notice periods apply with respect to redundancy or resignation in relation to such contracts of definite duration, however the party terminating the employment is to pay to the other compensation equal to one-half of the full wages that would have accrued had the employment contract remained in force. The latter also applies should the employer terminate the contract without justified reason.
In either type of contract, where termination is by the employer on the grounds of good and sufficient cause, no notice period (or payment of compensation in lieu thereof) is to apply.
The law further provides specific procedures that are to apply in the case of collective redundancies of employees.
Payment of Social Security Contributions and Income Taxes
The employer deducts from the employee’s salary and to pay to the relevant authorities both the employer’s and the employee’s portions of the social security contributions due with respect to that employee.
The employer also deducts from the employee’s salary and pays to the authorities all taxes due by the employee to the authorities.
Due to developments in information exchange, the nature and type of property being developed by various lines of business and its corresponding value, as well as the value and confidentiality of data and information held by undertakings, it is increasingly important for employers to introduce safeguards in relation to the duty of confidentiality of employees regarding work undertaken by them, as well as their post-termination obligations in relation to the confidentiality of such property and information. This is a matter that can be included as an obligation in the employee’s contract of employment.
Monitoring of Employees
Monitoring of employees on the place of work and their use of equipment and apparata pertaining to the employer, although not expressly provided for at law, is allowed insofar as employees are fully aware of such monitoring and have provided their consent thereto. Data protection concerns in relation to the employee are however to be addressed in relation to such monitoring and the Office of the Information and Data Protection Commissioner is to be consulted in given instances.
Representation of Employees
The law makes provision for the appointment of an employee to be nominated as an information and consultation representative of employees in undertakings of 50 or more employees. The purpose of the appointment of such representative is to keep employees informed regarding a number of matters, including developments regarding the undertaking’s activities, employment within the undertaking, and decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in work organisation.
Department for Industrial and Employment Relations
The Department for Industrial and Employment Relations (DIER) is established by law. Its mission is to protect the interests of workers holding employment contracts while, in a spirit of social partnership, actively promoting a healthy relationship, and to contribute towards stable industrial relations.
It is pertinent to note that any penalties that the employer wishes to introduce in a given employment contract are to be pre-approved by the DIER, and are to be in accordance with the parameters established by it.
Breach of Employment Conditions
Should the employee consider that his employer has breached the applicable employment conditions, he can forward his claim to the DIER and the latter is empowered to investigate the allegations and take the necessary steps in relation thereto.
The Industrial Tribunal
The Industrial Tribunal is established by law as an independent juridical tribunal on matters relating to employment relations. It decides upon cases involving, among others, alleged unfair dismissal, discriminatory treatment, breach of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value, victimization and harassment. The employee as a private individual can institute action before this Tribunal. The decisions of the Industrial Tribunal are not subject to appeal except on points of law.
WH Partners can further assist in all matters regarding employment conditions as well as in the following related areas:
- Drafting employment contracts;
- Providing payroll services;
- Assisting in the drafting of employment manuals, policies, and codes of conduct;
- Registration of employees with the relevant authorities;
- Assisting in areas relating to posting of workers in Malta and applications for work permits for non-EEA nationals;
- Providing employment advice.
For more information, please contact Angele Attard Chetcuti, Senior Associate at email@example.com