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Recent Amendments to the Employment and Industrial Relations Act in relation to Fixed Term Contracts

16 December 2020

Amendments to the Malta Employment and Industrial Relations Act

 

As a result of Act No. LVIII of 2020, enacted on the 11th of December 2020, the definition of unfair dismissal has been extended in order to include the termination by the employer of a worker under a definite contract of employment, provided that the expiration of the fixed term contract shall not be deemed to be a termination of such definite contract.

 

In case of such a dismissal, the employee would be entitled to be paid a compensation amounting to one-half of the wages that would have accrued to the employee in respect of the remainder of the contract. Notwithstanding the above, should there be good and sufficient cause for such a dismissal, the employer would not be liable to pay such compensation.

 

Moreover, should the employee abandon the contract of service prior to expiration, the employee would then be liable to pay the employer one-half of the wages that would have accrued to the employee during the remainder of the contract. This liability also ceases if there is good and sufficient cause for such abandonment.

 

These recent amendments have also extended the jurisdiction of the Industrial Tribunal by specifically providing that the Industrial Tribunal shall have the exclusive competence to deal with matters concerning the unfair and premature termination of a fixed term contract.

 

The amendments specifically state that these amendments shall be applicable to any proceedings relating to unfair termination of definite contracts of employment which are still pending before the First Hall of the Civil Court, Court of Magistrates (Gozo) (superior jurisdiction) and Industrial Tribunal which on the date of entry into force of such amendments are not res judicata.

 

Notwithstanding the amendment relating to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Industrial Tribunal, any proceedings which are pending before the First Hall Civil Court and the Court of Magistrates (Gozo) (superior jurisdiction) shall continue to be heard by these courts, provided that these proceeds were initiated prior to the entrance into force of this Act. This shall also apply to any proceedings which had been transferred from the Industrial Tribunal to the First Hall Civil Court and the Court of Magistrates (Gozo) (superior jurisdiction) on the basis of lack of competence prior to the entrance into force of these amendments.

 

Further provided that the industrial tribunal, shall be competent to deal with any cases relating to unfair termination of definite contracts which are still pending before the tribunal, notwithstanding any pleas relating to lack of jurisdiction which had been raised prior to the coming into force of these amendments, which pleas had not yet been decided and effected.

 

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