The Organisation of Working Time Regulations set out minimum requirements for the organisation of working time that generally apply to all sectors of activity, both public and private, subject to any special requirements that may be prescribed to particular sectors by virtue of specific sectoral regulation orders or any other applicable law.
Collective agreements or other agreements entered into between employers and employees may also set out more favourable provisions regulating working time, for the ultimate protection of the health and safety of employees.
Statutory minimum requirements relating to working time include minimum periods of daily rest, breaks, weekly rest and annual leave, maximum weekly working time, certain aspects of night work, shift work and patterns of work, as further outlined below.
Every worker is entitled to a minimum daily rest period of eleven consecutive hours for each twenty four-hour period during which the worker performs work for his employer.
In addition to the eleven-hour daily rest entitlement, every worker is entitled to one day off per week, i.e. an uninterrupted weekly rest period of hours, for each seven-day period during which the worker works for the employer.
Alternatively, one may be entitled to one period of forty-eight consecutive hours within a fourteen-day period, or two periods of twenty-four consecutive hours each within a fourteen-day period.
No rest period can be substituted by monetary compensation save exceptional circumstances prescribed by the law, provided that equivalent compensatory rest periods are given to the worker soon after.
Where the working day is longer than six hours, a worker is entitled to a minimum rest break for an uninterrupted period of not less than fifteen minutes, which the worker is entitled to spend away from his workstation if he has one. Such rest break is not considered as working time.
Sectoral regulation orders may prescribe special requirements relating to rest and break periods for certain sectors of industry.
As a general rule, the average working time for each seven-day period of a worker, including overtime, may not exceed forty-eight hours. The average weekly working time should be calculated from the total number of hours worked in a reference period as further set out in the Organisation of Working Time Regulations.
An employer may not force an employee to work more than forty-eight hours over a seven-day period, unless the employer has first obtained the employee’s agreement to perform such work. Such consent may be withdrawn by the employee by giving no less than seven days and no more than three months’ written notice to the employer, that may be stipulated in the said written agreement.
A night worker’s normal hours of work may not exceed an average of eight hours in any twenty-four-hour period. In such cases, an employer must take the necessary measures to ensure that the worker concerned undergoes a suitable health assessment to determine the worker’s health status in order to ascertain fitness for the proposed work. This must be carried out prior to assigning night work to a worker and at regular intervals thereafter or whenever there is a change in the working environment or in the health status of a worker.
Special rules apply to shift workers, mobile workers and offshore workers. Collective agreements may also modify the minimum requirements that are set out in the Organisation of Working Time Regulations. Moreover, sectoral regulation orders may prescribe special requirements for certain sectors of industry.
Overtime refers to any hours of work in excess of the normal hours of work of an employee. An employer may require its full-time employees to work any overtime, as long as the average weekly working time (including overtime) does not exceed an average of forty-eight hours over the applicable reference period determined in terms of the Organization of Working Time Regulations. An employee may, however, give his written consent to work more than a weekly average of forty-eight hours.
According to the Overtime Regulations, an employee whose overtime rate is not covered by a specific sectoral regulation order must be paid one and a half times the normal rate for work carried out in excess of a forty-hour week, averaged over a four-week period or over the shift cycle at the discretion of the employer.
In a sector where there is no applicable sectoral regulation order, regard must be had to any provision relating to overtime payment as may be set out in an applicable collective agreement covering such a sector.
An employer may introduce a scheme to bank hours, whereby up to three hundred and seventy-six hours of the normal annual working hours in each calendar year may be banked, thus allowing extra hours over and above the normal weekly working hours to be worked by an employee during periods of higher work activity which would be redeemed during periods of lower activity by having working hours below the normal weekly working hours.
The average weekly working time (including overtime) may not, however, exceed an average of forty-eight hours over the applicable reference period in terms of the Organization of Working Time Regulations, unless the employee concerned has given his consent in writing to work more than a weekly average of forty-eight hours.
The hours of work that may be banked must be limited to those hours on any day in a week which attract the normal hourly rate of payment. Similarly, any hours of work which have been banked in order to be utilised during weeks of lower work activity, may only be so utilized on a weekly day of work where the hours of work are paid at a normal rate. Moreover, the employer and its employees may also agree to include hours which attract a special rate of pay and in this respect, the hours to be banked must reflect such special hourly rate of pay.
Part-time and full-time employees with reduced hours may not be forced to participate in a scheme to bank hours, and must not suffer any detriment by the employer for failing to agree to participate in such a scheme.
Any scheme for the banking of hours would need to comply with certain prescribed requirements, and requires the prior approval of the Department for Industrial and Employment Relations (or DIER), which may impose any conditions deemed necessary for the implementation of such scheme.
At Empleo, we provide legal advice to employers on all matters outlined above, including advice on the minimum statutory requirements for the determination of working time, rest and break periods, the preparation of employment contracts, and the preparation of policies and schemes relating to the banking of hours.
Some of our services in this area include the following:
You may get in touch with us here to request an initial free legal consultation in relation to any of the matters outlined above.
Mariella graduated from the University of Malta with a doctorate in law in 2005. She completed a master’s degree in ‘European Private Law’ from the La Sapienza, University of Rome, and was admitted to the bar in Malta in 2006.
Mariella is a people person – and it is this attribute which has really characterised and shaped her career.
Over the years, she headed the legal departments of several corporate services firms. Due to her skillset, she was also entrusted with managing and overseeing operations and human resources, where she gained technical and practical experience in various corporate, commercial and employment matters.
Her practical hands-on experience and insight perfectly complement Mariella’s technical knowledge of employment law, thus placing her in an ideal position to understand and advise employers and employees alike on various matters that may arise at the workplace.
Mariella is passionate about employment law matters and provides her clients with the highest-quality legal service to achieve the best possible outcome and resolve any employment law related issues and concerns.
Bradley graduated Doctor of Laws from the University of Malta in 2005 and was admitted to the Bar in Malta in 2006. He advises clients on various corporate, commercial, employment and regulatory matters, with particular focus on company and financial services law.
He has assisted clients in various corporate and commercial matters by providing company law advice and assisting in the implementation of corporate finance, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions and similar transactions.
Bradley has also advised and assisted investment funds, fund managers and other investment services providers, banks and financial institutions, on various legal and regulatory matters relating to the setting up, authorisation and ongoing conduct of their activities in Malta.
His practice also covers general employment law matters. Bradley’s experience in company and financial services law enables him to focus on various corporate and regulatory aspects of employment relationships. In particular, he advises organisations on the implementation of employee share option and participation schemes, the implications of business transfers on employment relationships, as well as relations with senior employees.
Karl graduated Doctor of Laws from the University of Malta in 2005 and was admitted to the Bar in Malta in 2006.
Karl has gained considerable expertise in technology law and regularly assists clients in relation to intellectual property issues, commercial contracts and ways to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and privacy laws. Whilst such matters used to be only given incidental importance when dealing with employment matters, they are now widely acknowledged to be vital in all employment relationships.
He is also regularly engaged by C-level executives to assist in negotiating employment contracts and settlement agreements.
Karl advises across a multitude of industries including technology; marketing; adtech; financial services; gaming; esports; consumer products; and media and telecommunications.