Understanding the General Working Conditions in Malta

In recent years, Malta's economy has grown significantly, seeing a rise in foreign investment and job opportunities. Malta has nowadays become an attractive business destination with a dynamic labour market, hence, it is crucial  to understand the general working conditions that the laws of Malta provide for. 

The Maltese legal system that governs employment is well-established, efficient, and particularly protective of employee rights. The Employment Relations and Industrial Relations Act (‘EIRA’) is the primary law governing employment conditions and addresses issues relating to working hours, the minimum wage, leave entitlements, and termination of employment while ensuring that employees are treated fairly. 

When working in Malta, there are two (2) types of employment contracts that an employee and an employer may enter into. These contracts are either full-time or part-time and can be entered into either for an indefinite (permanent) period of time or for a definite (temporary) period of time

  • Probationary Period 
The general rule is that when a contract of employment is subject to a probationary period, the length of such period shall be that of six (6) months. Yet, employees holding technical, executive, administrative, or managerial positions, whose wages are at least double the national minimum wages established that year, shall be on probation for a period of twelve (12) months. 

In the case of definite contracts, however, the law holds that in a definite contract, the length of such a probationary period shall be proportionate to the expected duration of the contract and the nature of the work and in any case, that the contract is renewed, the new employment relationship should not be subject to a new probationary period. A definite contract cannot be entered into for a period which is shorter than six (6) months, unless there are justifiable reasons based on precise and concrete circumstances characterizing a given activity. If the definite contract is shorter than six (6) months, the probationary period shall be one-third (1/3) of the duration of the same definite contract. Where a definite contract has a duration of between six (6) and fifteen (15) months, the probationary period shall be calculated on the basis of two (2) months of probationary period per six (6) months of contract duration. For definite contracts exceeding fifteen (15) months in duration, the probationary period shall be six (6) months. 

In any case, the employer and the employee may agree on a shorter period of probation. Moreover, where an employee avails himself of leave for more than two (2) weeks, probation is to be suspended. Probation then needs to be extended to a duration corresponding to the amount of leave taken. No dismissal can take place during the suspended period of probation.

  • The Duty to provide Information in Writing 
The Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Regulations, introduced by Legal Notice 267 of 2022, updated the employer’s obligations to provide employees with information in writing, relating to the essential aspects of their employment relationship, as outlined in regulations themselves. The information must be provided within the legally specified timeframes unless it has already been included in the employment contract.

  • Hours of Work
The standard working hours for full-time employment and the maximum hours for part-time work differ depending on the specific industry. These working hours are determined by Wage Regulation Orders (‘WRO’) that govern each industry based on their particular scope of work, or in cases where the industry is not covered by a WRO, the Organization of Working Time Regulations, Subsidiary Legislation 452.87, shall apply. 

Typically, the regular working hours for full-time employees (excluding overtime) are set at forty (40) hours per week. However, there are instances where the law allows for the normal working hours to exceed this limit, but not beyond an average of forty-eight (48) hours per week, which is calculated over a reference period of seventeen (17) weeks. In certain sectors, such as the manufacturing and tourism sectors, the reference period is one year.

An employer has the option to request that an employee works beyond the average of forty-eight (48) hours per week. In the event that an employee gives his or her consent in writing to work more than an average of forty-eight (48) hours per week, but wishes to revoke their consent, they have the right to do so. This can be achieved by providing at least seven (7) days' written notice to the employer prior to withdrawing their consent, unless a mutually agreed-upon longer period, not exceeding three (3) months, has been established between the parties. If the employee declines to give consent, the employer cannot compel the employee to work more or retaliate against the employee as a result of their refusal. In such a case, the maximum working hours, including overtime, shall not exceed the previously mentioned average of forty-eight (48) hours a week.

  •  Minimum Wage
The national minimum wage for those, who are eighteen years of age or older, is set to increase from one hundred and ninety-two Euro and seventy-three cents (€192.73) to two hundred and thirteen Euro and fifty-four cents (€213.54) per week from January 1st, 2024. Notwithstanding this, other sectoral minimum wages that are based on the industry's economic activity and specified in the relevant WRO may be applicable. Additionally, every employee is entitled to weekly allowances and statutory bonuses. 

*Article written by Ms Daisy Grima, Junior Lawyer

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