The Persons with Disability (Employment) Act (Chapter 210 of the Laws of Malta) currently regulates the employment of persons with disability in Malta. Under this Act, persons employing twenty persons or more should ensure that 2% of their employees are persons with a disability. Following the introduction of 2% quota rule in 1995, this was not strictly enforced until the Act was amended in July 2015 means of amending Act XXII of 2015.

Act XXII of 2015 establishes fines in the form of ‘annual contributions’ for employers not meeting such quota. These are of €2,400 for each person with disability that should be in employment, which contribution is capped at a maximum of €10,000 for any employer who fails to respect the said quota. The contribution paid by employers who fail to satisfy the 2% quota rule is administered by the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) and is forwarded to the Lino Spiteri Foundation (www.linospiterifoundation.org) which was set up to improve the inclusion of vulnerable individuals into gainful employment. As an exception to the rule, employers may however be authorised by the Minister responsible for Labour to disregard the 2% quota rule, should they provide evidence of the fact that no person is suitable to hold any work position within their company or organisation.

Over the past months, the Malta Employers’ Association (MEA) raised a number of concerns regarding the implementation of the mentioned law. These included the following:

  1. The law empowers ETC to set up and maintain a register of persons with disability, however employers have no access to such register;
  2. Employees with a disability are free to register themselves, or not to do so;
  3. It is only the ETC Register that is recognised by the Act, to the exclusion of other registers held by Social Security Department and the National Commission for Persons with Disability (KNPD);
  4. There is an apparent shortage of registered persons with a disability seeking work.

On 28th April 2016, after a period of negotiations between MEA and ETC, as well as discussions held by MEA with various stakeholders, MEA and ETC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a view to establishing a more practical approach to the implementation of the mentioned law. The following are the salient points of the memorandum, as reported by MEA:

  1. Persons with disability registered with the KNPD register will be considered for quota purposes even if they are not on the ETC register;
  2. It is intended that a new ‘Jobsplus’ Act will empower ETC to provide employers with the personal details of individuals who are registered as persons with disability in the ETC register and in any other applicable register (including that held by KNPD and the proposed new unified national register of Persons with Disability);
  3. If a disabled person chooses to deregister themselves, it will not be to the detriment of the employer’s quota;
  4. Persons with a certified disability but who are not registered will be acknowledged for the computation of the quota;
  5. Since some disabilities may be of a temporary nature, such cases will be taken into consideration for the duration of the period in which the employee is certified to be disabled;
  6. In-service or outsourced work agreements will be taken into consideration for the computation of quotas;
  7. Once a person with disability is employed, employers will not be penalised quota-wise if eligible persons with disability resign within one year of employment;
  8. The quota for companies with a fluctuating work force will be computed based on averaging of temporary employees over the whole year;
  9. Students with disability following apprenticeship schemes will be credited for the purposes of the quota calculation;
  10. Employers who become complaint with the quota during 2016 will be exempted from the contribution for 2015 and 2016;
  11. ETC will make every effort to shortlist prospective employees with disability to save time for employers in recruitment; and
  12. Employers who operate a group of companies will be subject to an overall quota, thus one company can compensate for another within the group.

(cf. MEA Update, Issue 494, 28.04.2016)