Covid-19 – Information for Employees
The following information is intended to shed further light on the current concerns which are being raised by Employees due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Employees Suffering from Covid-19
If you test positive to the virus, you are entitled to avail of sick leave entitlement. By means of L.N. 99 of 2020 you are further requested to self-isolate for a period of time which the Superintendent of Public Health deems necessary. Those individuals who share a residence with you are also required to self-isolate for a period of time determined by the Superintendent of Public Health. Failure to adhere to the aforementioned shall make you subject to a penalty amounting to €10,000.
If you were travelling and returned to Malta (from any country) on or after the 13th March 2020, you are subject to a fourteen-day period of mandatory quarantine as per L.N. 63 of 2020. During such period, you shall be entitled to Quarantine Leave as defined by L.N. 62 of 2020, which leave is considered to be Special Leave Entitlement and is over and above the yearly vacational leave entitlement.
Additionally, as per L.N. 78 of 2020, people residing with you are also obliged to undergo this fourteen-day period of mandatory quarantine and are also eligible to Quarantine Leave. If you breach the conditions of mandatory quarantine you shall be subject to a €3,000 penalty.
Temporary Suspension of Operations/Closing of Business
Where an employer is constraint to suspend the operation of the business as a result of the current outbreak, the employer must undertake its best endeavours to provide teleworking facilities and make arrangements for you to work remotely. Where this is possible, business shall resume as usual and you will be entitled to the normal salary if you fulfil your work duties.
On the other hand, if teleworking is not possible, employers may consider forced leave, which leave is deducted from your yearly leave entitlement. In such case, the employer is to provide a written statement providing justifiable reasons for such forced leave. As per S.L. 452.115 employers are entitled to utilise up to twelve days of annual vacational leave as forced leave. However, given the present circumstances an exception will be made to this rule.
Furthermore, once vacational leave is exhausted employers may not automatically switch to unpaid leave since authorisation from the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations is required. Additionally, you are to be made aware that utilisation of forced leave does not give rise to a civil debt in favour of the employer if forced leave exceeds the annual leave entitlement – which means that in such case the employer will have to pay you for those days which exceed the annual leave entitlement.
Permanent Closing Down of Business
In certain instances, the current circumstances are leaving employers with no choice but to permanently shut down the operations of their business. In such case, it is likely that your employment is terminated on grounds of redundancy and you are paid the relative notice period according to Maltese law. This depends on the term of employment. Furthermore, where a number of employees are being made redundant, the Collective Redundancies (Protection of Employment) Regulations (S.L. 452.80) are applicable. Termination of employment by an employer on grounds of redundancy, over a period of thirty days, of 10 or more employees in establishments normally employing 20 to 99 employees; 10% or more of the number of employees in establishments employing 100 to 299 employees; and 30 or more in establishments employing 300 employees or above constitute Collective Redundancies.
Aid and Assistance Available
It is to be noted that during the last couple of days, the Maltese Government has introduced various measures to assist employees and to mitigate the financial restraint which might arise during this time. Such measures include the following:
- Parent Benefit:
Parents/Guardians shall be eligible for such benefit if they satisfy the following criteria:
- Both Parents/Guardians employed in the private sector;
- At least one of them is required to stay at home to take care of the children
- Cannot work remotely;
- Children are under the age of sixteen (16) years;
- Exhausted all yearly leave entitlement;
- After 8th March 2020 did not attend to work to take care of children.
- Employees Requiring Special Assistance
Employees with special needs and medical conditions are considered to be more vulnerable and as a result the majority of said employees have been recently requested to undergo quarantine as per government’s instructions. Where in such cases teleworking is not possible, such employees shall be entitled to a benefit for a period specified by the government.
Employees eligible are:
- Employed in the private sector;
- After 8th March 2020, due to Covid-19 impact, could not go to work on medical advice;
- Cannot work remotely.
- Unemployment Benefit:
Persons who due to the impact of Covid-19, lose their job in the private sector after 8th March 2020, may apply for this benefit.
- JobsPlus Assistance:
JobsPlus is providing assistance to those employees whose employment has been terminated during the last couple of days as result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Get in touch with our team of lawyers at DF Advocates who may provide further advice and assistance. For information or any specific Employment law enquiries, please contact us on email@example.com.
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