Leave Entitlement in Malta

Leave Entitlement in Malta

The Maltese Law provides an overview of the leave entitlements. 

An essential element of employment in Malta is the right to time off, which is guaranteed by Maltese law and ensures that workers can take time off for personal and family reasons without jeopardising their employment or salary. The following is an overview of the leave entitlements provided for by Maltese Law:
  • Vacation leave 
In Malta, the leave entitlement for every employee with a forty (40) hour working week is one hundred and ninety-two (192) hours of basic leave. Furthermore, by virtue of an amendment to the National Holidays and other Public Holidays Act, Chapter 252 of the laws of Malta, employees are entitled to additional leave days, corresponding to those public holidays that fall on weekends. This means that in 2024, employees should be entitled to another forty-eight (48) hours of leave for the six (6) public holidays that fall on the weekend.
  • Sick Leave 
Depending on the relevant industry sector, sick leave policies differ significantly. There are a number of industries that fall under the purview of a WRO, in which case the relevant WRO would specify the appropriate number of sick days, to which an employee would be entitled. Where the industry sector is not covered by a WRO, all employees would, however, be entitled to two (2) working weeks of sick leave per year, which is measured in hours. On occasions of sickness, a medical certificate must be presented to the employer on the day, generally specified in the policies and procedures of the company in question. 

The employer is only required to issue wages for the amount of sick leave entitlement provided by law. If an employee remains sick after exhausting all the sick leave entitlement, the employee will only continue to receive the sick leave benefits, to which s/he may be entitled in terms of the Social Security Act. Also, it is to be noted that the first three (3) consecutive days of any sick leave period claims are to be paid in full by the employer. If the employee remains sick after the three (3) consecutive days, the employee will continue to receive the sickness benefit, to which s/he may be entitled in terms of the Social Security Act. In such a case, an employer may either:
  1. Pay the wage of the employee in full for the first three (3) days of sickness and then pay the difference between the Sickness Benefit entitlement and the employee’s wage for any additional certified sick leave; or
  2. Pay the employee's wage in full for the certified sick leave, and in return, the employee refunds the employer the Sickness Benefit entitlement once this is issued by the Department of Social Security.
  • Carers’ Leave  
Carer’s leave in Malta is regulated by The Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers Regulations (“Work-Life Balance Regulations”) introduced by Legal Notice 201 of 2022. Employees in Malta have the legal right to take time off work to care for a relative or a person who lives in the same household as the worker, who is ill or is in need of care and support. A maximum of five (5) working days may be taken each year, which are unpaid, unless an agreement with the employer stipulating otherwise is in place. However, employees are eligible for social security payments during their leave time, which are funded by the government. Additionally, companies are not allowed to terminate an employee's employment or take any other negative action against them because they took caregiving leave. 
  • Injury Leave 
In Malta, there is also the possibility of injury leave. The length of this type of leave varies depending on how severe the injury is, which can go up to one (1) year on full wages, less the full amount of any injury benefit to which the employee may be entitled under the Social Security Act. For a person to be eligible for this type of leave, such person would have to obtain a medical certificate and hand it over to their employer. During injury leave, vacation leave and bonuses will continue to accrue, nonetheless. 
  • Maternity Leave
Additionally, Maltese law provides for maternity leave, from which pregnant employees may benefit. These employees are entitled to an uninterrupted period of eighteen (18) weeks, which may be availed of as follows:
  • six weeks of the maternity leave entitlement to be taken compulsorily immediately after the date of confinement;
  • four weeks of maternity leave to be availed of 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, either immediately before or immediately after the above periods, as the employee may request.
If the employee is unable to avail herself of maternity leave before the date of confinement, the remaining balance of entitlement may be availed of after the confinement.

The employee has to notify her employer in writing of the date, when she intends to avail herself of such entitlement, at least four (4) weeks before its commencement, in so far as is reasonably practicable. Employers are required to pay wages for the first fourteen (14) weeks of maternity leave, but if an employee elects to take more time off than that, they are not required by law to do so. However, this does not affect any benefits that an employee may be eligible for under the Social Security Act for any period of maternity leave that exceeds fourteen (14) weeks.
  • Paternity Leave
By virtue of the Work-Life Balance Regulations, Malta has now also introduced paternity leave. This amounts to ten (10) working days, which fathers or equivalent second parents are able to take without loss of any wages
immediately after the birth or adoption of the child.
  • Parental Leave 
The Work-Life Balance Regulations also regulate parental leave and provide that both male and female employees, whether full-time or part-time, and whether employed on an indefinite or definite contract, are entitled to paid leave upon the birth, adoption, fostering, or legal custody of a child. For this leave to be given, and unless agreed otherwise, one needs to have been working continuously for twelve (12) months with the employer, in which case each parent would be entitled to four (4) months of parental leave until the child reaches the age of eight (8) years. As the Work-Life Balance Regulations specify, parental leave shall be paid for a period of two (2) months at the same rate established for the sickness benefit entitlement under the Social Security Act, shall be availed of in periods of at least two (2) weeks each and taken in accordance to the age of the child or children, to for whose care parental leave was granted, as follows:

The two (2) month of parental leave shall be taken in accordance to the age of the child or children for whose care parental leave was granted and paid as follows:
  • Where the child or children has or have not attained four (4) years of age, fifty percent (50%) of entitlement (4 weeks) will be paid;
  • Where the child or children has or have attained the age of four (4) years but has or have not yet attained the age of six (6) years, twenty five percent (25%) of entitlement (2 weeks) will be paid;
  • Where the child or children has or have attained the age of six (6) years but has or have not yet attained eight (8) years of age, twenty five percent (25%) of entitlement (2 weeks) will be paid.

In the case of foster parents, the rate of payment shall be the same as that established above, but on the condition that payment of allowance will be given as per  parent applying for parental leave and not for each child fostered.
  • Marriage Leave 
Maltese law also provides for leave to be taken in the case of marriage. Depending on the rules of the applicable WRO that apply to the employee's particular industry sector, the length of such leave may change. For employees who work in activities that are not subject to any WRO, two (2) working days of marriage leave are permitted.
  • Urgent Family Leave 
In the case of urgent family matters involving cases of sickness or accident affecting immediate family members, an employee is to be given fifteen (15) hours of paid leave per year. This leave must be deducted from the employee's annual leave entitlement.
  •  Bereavement Leave 
The law also allows for employees to take leave in the case of the death of one of their spouse, parent, child, or sibling. Depending on the WRO that is relevant to the employee's sector, the specific entitlement may vary. One (1) working day of bereavement leave is allowed for employees engaged in job activities not covered by any WRO and in the absence of a formal agreement between the employer and the employee specifying otherwise. 
  •  IVF Leave 
Recently, IVF leave was also introduced, giving Employees who undergo this treatment one hundred (100) hours of leave per couple, which is fully paid. Sixty percent (60%) of this leave is given to the receiving parent, whereas the remainder is given to the other parent in question. This is done mainly to ensure that the process is done adequately and also to allow time off for recovery. The entitlement applies to both men and women, and the employee in question must inform his or her employer two (2) weeks in advance. 
  • Court Witness and Jury Service Leave
In Malta, the law does not provide for special leave for employees to attend court as witnesses. The only exception is with regard to hospital and clinic employees, who are permitted to do so in connection with police proceedings. Yet, all employees are given the right to jury service leave. This basically allows them to take time off and still receive full pay upon attending court to render this service. 

*Article written by Ms. Daisy Grima, Junior Lawyer