Covid-19 – Information for Employers

The following information is intended to shed further light on the current concerns which are being raised by Employers due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Employers’ duties vis-à-vis its Employees during the Covid-19 outbreak

As an employer you are considered to have a duty of care towards your employees. The Maltese Occupational Health and Safety Authority Act provides that an employer is to ensure the health and safety of its employees at all times whilst carrying out their duties. This means that in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic you must ensure that you implement the necessary precautionary measures to constrain the spreading of the virus.

Such precautionary measures should include: maintaining a clean and safe place of work, eliminating business travel, limiting human interactions by avoiding meetings and social gatherings, adherence to quarantine and self-isolation requirements as imposed by law and considering teleworking.

 Employees Tested Positive to Covid-19

Where an employee tests positive to the virus, he/she is entitled to avail of sick leave entitlement. By means of L.N. 99 of 2020 the employee is further requested to self-isolate for a period of time which the Superintendent of Public Health deems necessary.

 Employees under Mandatory Quarantine

If an employee was travelling and returned to Malta (from any country) on or after the 13th March 2020, he/she is subject to a fourteen-day period of mandatory quarantine as per L.N. 63 of 2020. During such period, the employee 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.

 Compliance with Relevant Data Protection Legislation

As a general principle, you should respect the Data Minimization Principle, meaning that as an employer you process the least amount of personal data possible to sustain an employment relationship with an employee. Furthermore, under GDPR any data relating to health and medical records is subject to further and enhanced protection and therefore, processing of such data is generally prohibited. There are however exceptions to this rule especially when the processing of such data is required for the public interest or as a means of protection to others.

In light of the current unprecedented times, questions arise as to whether the current scenario gives rise to an adequate and legitimate interest to process data. Processing for reasons of public interest should only incur on the basis of an EU or Member State law. Since no legislation has been enacted yet, public interest cannot be considered to be a basis for processing. On the other hand, you have a legitimate interest in knowing whether any of your employees impose a treat to any of your other employees. In any case, prior to processing any data, you should strictly ensure that there is a valid, lawful purpose for such processing.

Another GDPR consideration is where an employee is working remotely due to the teleworking arrangements which you might have set up. In such case you must ensure that the privacy of the employee is respected as per legal requirements stipulated in the Telework National Standard Order (S.L. 452.104).

 Temporary Suspension/Closing of Business

If you are constraint to suspend the operation of your business as a result of the current outbreak, you must undertake your best endeavours to provide teleworking facilities and make arrangements for employees to work remotely. Where this is possible, business shall resume as usual and employees will be entitled to the normal salary, provided that they fulfil their work duties.

On the other hand, if teleworking is not possible, you may consider opting for forced leave, which leave is deducted from the employees’ yearly leave entitlement. In such case, a written statement is to be provided to the employees outlining justifiable reasons for such forced leave. As per S.L. 452.115 you are entitled to utilise up to twelve days of annual vacational leave as forced leave. However, it is likely that due to the current situation an exception will be made to such rule.

Furthermore, once the annual vacational leave is exhausted you may not automatically switch to unpaid leave since authorisation from the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations is required. Please note that utilisation of forced leave does not give rise to a civil debt in your favour if forced leave exceeds the annual leave entitlement – which means that in such case you will have to pay employees 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, employees are to be terminated on grounds of redundancy and to be 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. Furthermore, in such scenario further rules are applicable which include (but are not limited to) the duty to notify in writing the Employees’ Representatives while giving the said representatives an opportunity to consult.

It is to be stressed that in the present circumstances termination of employment should only be considered as a last resort and you are to make all possible efforts to avoid terminating employments.

Aid and Assistance Available to Employers

You may also benefit from various incentives which have been recently introduced by the Maltese Government to support your business and operations. Such measures include the following:

  • Mandatory Quarantine Grant
  • €350 (per full-time employee) for employers that have employees on Quarantine Leave as per L.N. 62 of 2020;
  • €350 for individuals who are self-employed and are on mandatory quarantine.


  • Teleworking Grant
  • Any employer or undertaking incurring telework expenses;
  • Irrespective of size and sector;
  • Eligible expenses are limited to costs of purchasing of hardware, installation, software and communication solutions;
  • Capped at €4,000 per undertaking.


  • Postponement of Social Security and Taxes
  • Companies that satisfy tax obligations up to 31st December 2019;
  • Self-employed also eligible;
  • Suffered a significant decline in their turnover and cashflow difficulties due to the current outbreak;
  • Provisional Tax and VAT falling due in the months of March and April 2020;
  • Social Security contributions and employee taxes.

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 info@dfadvocates.com.

Photo: DFA


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