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.
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
Hours of Work
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.
*Article written by Ms Daisy Grima, Junior Lawyer
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