Covid-19 Update on Employment Considerations: 2nd April 2020

By means of a press conference held on the 1st April 2020 addressed by the Honourable Minister Carmelo Abela together with the Director General of the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations, various clarifications were provided. The Department of Industrial and Employment Relations further issued a set of FAQs outlining such. These include the following:

  • If due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the company’s operations had an adverse effect resulting in less human resources required to continue operations, an employer may opt to temporarily change the applicable conditions of work with the permissions given by the Director General of Industrial and Employment Relations with the aim of survival of the organisation and the consequent retention of employments. Approval is only granted on the premise that the employer is proposing such measure in agreement.


  • As an alternative solution, an employer may opt to utilise the vacational (pro-rata) leave entitlement, followed by unpaid leave. While the employer may opt to give employees the entire annual vacation leave entitlement, they are only obliged to give employees leave which has been accrued. Such leave is to be taken from the employees’ vacation leave entitlement and is to be paid at the employees’ normal hourly rate.


  • Employers may also consider the implementation of a reduced working schedule, in which case the approval of the Director General for Industrial and Employment Relations is required together with the agreement of the affected employees and/or their representatives.


  • Except where expressly permitted by the provisions of the Employment & Industrial Relations Act (Chapter 452), an employer shall not make any deductions nor enter into any contract with an employee authorising any deductions to be made from the wages to be paid by the employer to the employee.


  • As a temporary measure, employers may introduce conditions which are less favourable than those stipulated in the Employment and Industrial Relations Act (Chapter 452 of the Laws of Malta). However, in such case it has to be put in writing and the authorisation of the Director General is also required. Furthermore, employers are to note that this approval is intended to provide a temporary measure to avoid redundancies and is subject to be reviewed every four (4) weeks.


  • Employers are obliged to pay the Statutory Weekly Allowance to each full-time employee on the last working day in March and on the last working day in September of each year. Same applies for the Statutory Bonuses to be paid between the 15th and the 30th day of the month of June and between the 15th and 23rd day of the month of December of each year.


  • If employment is terminated due to redundancy the employer is under a legal obligation to re-engage an employee previously terminated on the basis of redundancy if the post formerly occupied by him/her becomes available within a period of one year from the date of termination and the conditions of employment shall not be less favourable than those to which he/she would have been entitled if the contract of service relating to him/her had not been terminated. Furthermore, in case of redundancy the employer is still expected to follow the regulations stipulated in our law regarding notice periods.


  • During periods of unpaid leave, vacation leave does not continue to accrue. Therefore, if you are employed but not performing work due to business closure then your vacation leave entitlement shall not accrue during such period even if you are receiving the EUR800 grant.


  • Quarantine leave is given in addition to any other leave entitlement which an employee may be entitled to. It may only be given to persons who are to undergo obligatory quarantine as advised by Supt of Public Health. If a health professional has advised that an employed person must be placed in quarantine then said employee shall be entitled to quarantine leave, which is to be fully paid by the employer. If an employee is quarantined on more than one occasion that employee shall be eligible for quarantine leave for each instance that s/he is obliged to undergo quarantine. This shall also apply for instances when the employer has requested an employee to quarantine him/herself as a precautionary measure. There are no minimum or maximum days for quarantine leave since this is determined on a case by case basis by health professionals.


  • Where an employee resigns, he/she is still expected to adhere to the regulations regarding notice periods and to give the employer notice as indicated in the law.


  • Persons who started maternity leave before their place of work was locked down are still on maternity leave should not be limited to the grant of €800. The employer should top up the difference in salary between entitlement and grant. Should the place of work still be locked down by the end of the maternity leave, the employee shall continue to be employed on unpaid leave and be paid the grant of €800 only from thereon. In the case where the maternity leave begins when the place of work is already closed then the employee shall only be entitled to the €800 grant given to her by the employer. The employer may top such amount up only at their discretion. The 6-month obligatory period is to be worked after the employee resumes her duties following the cessation of the maternity leave, either on telework or once the place of work is once again operational. 

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: Katemangostar – Freepik.com



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