• The Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers Regulations, 2022

    The Regulations introduce a new set of minimum standards and requirements with the aim of facilitating the reconciliation of work and family life.

The Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers Regulations, 2022

06 January 2023

By virtue of Legal Notice 201 of 2022, the Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers Regulations were enacted on 2 August 2022 through SL 452.125 of the laws of Malta transposing Dir. (EU) 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on work-life balance for parents and carers and repealing Council Directive 2010/18/EU.

 

The Regulations introduce a new set of minimum standards and requirements with the aim of facilitating the reconciliation of work and family life, in order for parents to maintain a better work-life balance while also ensuring that both parents are equally involved in the care of their child and have equal treatment in the workplace. In this regard, the Regulations provide for individual rights related to paternity leave, carers’ leave, new and improved requirements relating to parental leave, as well as flexible working arrangements for workers who are parents or carers.

 

Paternity Leave

Fathers or equivalent second parents as recognized by Maltese law are now entitled to ten (10) working days of paid paternity leave, which are to be taken immediately after the birth or adoption of the worker’s child. The right to paternity leave applies to all workers, irrespective of the worker’s qualification, length of service, and marital or family status.

 

Parental Leave

Every worker is entitled to parental leave for each child as described below, irrespective of whether the worker is employed on a full-time or part-time basis, or whether employment is for an indefinite or fixed term. Workers are only eligible for this if they would have been in employment with the same employer for a continuous period of at least twelve (12) months.

 

The worker must present the employer with a notice in writing specifying the beginning and end of the parental leave, which notice must be given at least two (2) weeks prior to the commencement of said leave. Workers are also entitled to request that parental leave be granted in a flexible manner, to which the employer must respond, and shall give reasons for refusal in writing within two (2) weeks of such request.

 

Unless otherwise agreed by both parties, the employer does not have the right to suspend the period of parental leave during its course and request the worker to return to work before the agreed date of resumption of duties. Similarly, the worker does not have the right to return to work prior to the agreed date of resumption of duties.

 

A period of four (4) months paid parental leave shall be granted to every worker, both male and female, for every child born, adopted, fostered, or for having legal custody of a child. The paid parental leave is granted to enable parents to take care of their child until reaching the age of eight (8) years. Two (2) of the four (4) months will be paid at the same rate as established for the sickness benefit entitlement under the Social Security Act (Cap 318 of the laws of Malta), as follows:

  • (i) 50% of entitlement shall be paid where the child (or children) for whose parental leave was granted has/have not yet attained the age of four (4) years.
  • (ii) 25% of entitlement shall be paid where the child (or children) for whose parental leave was granted is/are between four (4) and six (6) years old.
  • (iii) 25% of entitlement shall be paid where the child (or children) for whose parental leave was granted is/are between six (6) and eight (8) years old.

 

The first two (2) months of parental leave cannot be transferred and must be used in set intervals of at least two (2) weeks each, unless otherwise agreed.

 

Carers’ Leave

Upon presentation of medical proof that a relative or person living in the same household is suffering from an illness and is in need of care and support, every worker has the right to unpaid carers’ leave of five (5) working days per year. Under Maltese law, a relative in this case is a worker’s son or daughter, parent, spouse, or partner in a civil partnership.  

 

Flexible working arrangements

Workers with children who have not yet attained the age of eight (8) years have the right to request flexible working arrangements for caring purposes. These include remote working, work on reduced hours and flexitime, to which the employer shall respond and give reasons for refusal or postponement in writing within two (2) weeks from the request.

 

Furthermore, flexible arrangements may be limited in duration, and when this is the case, the worker has the right to request to return to the original working pattern before the end of the agreed period. The employer shall respond to a request for an early return to the original working pattern, taking both the employer and the worker’s needs into account.

 

When the respective paternal, parental, or carers’ leave ends, workers are entitled to return to their original working arrangements or equivalent posts on terms and conditions which are no less favourable to the ones they originally had prior to taking such leave. Workers are also eligible to benefit from any improvement in working conditions to which they would have been entitled to had they not taken said leave.

 

Furthermore, in order to ensure that any form of abuse or attempt to curtail the entitlements afforded by the Regulations is averted, the law prohibits any discrimination against workers on grounds that they have availed themselves of leave, being paternity, parental, carers’ leave, time off from work on grounds of force majeure, or any flexible arrangement. Similarly, any dismissal or preparations for dismissal of workers on the grounds that they have applied for or taken such leave is unlawful. If, prima facie, such a dismissal has occurred, there is an inversion of the burden of proof in that the worker would be bound to prove that the dismissal was based on other grounds.

 

Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of the Regulations shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of up to two thousand Euro (€2000).

 

Article written by Dr. Andrea Mugliett, Junior Lawyer

 

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