Maltese law sets out various leave entitlements attaching to employees. The following is an overview of the general minimum statutory leave entitlements that are currently available to employees.
Each employee working a 40-hour working week, and an eight-hour working day, is entitled to paid annual leave equivalent in hours to four weeks and thirty two hours (192 hours).
In the case of full-time employees, where a national or public holiday in Malta falls on a Saturday, Sunday or weekly day of rest to which an employee is entitled, such employee shall be entitled to an additional day of vacation leave during that same calendar year in respect of each such national or public holiday in Malta.
In cases where the average weekly working time, calculated on the basis of a reference period of seventeen weeks, is below or exceeds forty hours per week, the annual leave entitlement in hours must be adjusted accordingly. The average weekly working time must be calculated on the normal hours of work of the employee and may not include overtime hours.
Fifty per cent or less of the annual leave entitlement, may, by mutual agreement between the employer and the employee, be carried over once to the next calendar year. Such vacation leave carried forward from the previous year will be utilised first, and may not be carried forward again.
As a minimum, all employees are entitled to time off from work on grounds of force majeure (an unforeseeable circumstance beyond the employee’s control) for urgent family reasons in cases of sickness or accident, making the employee immediately indispensable.
Such circumstances include:
The employer is bound to grant an employee a minimum total of fifteen hours with pay per year as urgent family leave. The total number of hours used up by the employee for urgent family reasons is deducted from the annual leave entitlement of the employee.
The employer is entitled to establish the maximum number of hours of time off an employee may take from work in each particular case, save that the minimum time should not be less than one hour per case unless there is the specific agreement of the employee.
A pregnant employee may apply for maternity leave for an uninterrupted period of eighteen weeks, and must be availed of as follows:
If the employee is unable to benefit from her maternity leave entitlement before the date of confinement, such remaining balance of entitlement may be availed of after confinement.
The employee has to notify her employer in writing of the date when she intends to avail herself of such entitlement at least four weeks before its commencement, in so far as is reasonably practicable.
An employee on maternity leave shall be entitled to the first fourteen weeks of maternity leave with full wages, but if the employee chooses to make use of any additional maternity leave beyond the fourteen weeks, the employer shall not be obliged to pay any wages for those extra weeks of maternity. This shall not prejudice any relevant benefit in respect of any period of maternity leave which goes beyond fourteen weeks in terms of the Social Security Act (Chapter 318 of the laws of Malta) to which the employee may be entitled if she chooses to avail herself of maternity leave beyond the paid fourteen weeks.
Moreover, a pregnant employee shall be entitled to time off without loss of pay or any other benefit, in order to attend antenatal examinations, if such examinations have to take place during her hours of work.
When an employee is on maternity leave, annual leave shall continue to accrue in their favour. Any balance of annual leave unavailed of by the end of the calendar year shall be automatically transferred to the next calendar year when it has not been possible for the employee to avail herself of such leave during the same year when the maternity leave commenced.
On termination of maternity leave, the employee will be entitled to resume work in the post she occupied on the commencement of her maternity leave, or in an analogous post if such post is no longer available.
Where a female employee does not resume work or, after having so resumed work, abandons her employment without good and sufficient cause within six months from the date of such resumption, she shall be liable, without prejudice to any other liability at law, to pay the employer a sum equivalent to the wages she received during the maternity leave.
It is unlawful for an employer to dismiss a pregnant employee, an employee who has recently given birth or an employee who is breastfeeding, from the date in which the employer is informed by the employee, by means of a medical certificate, of her pregnancy, except in cases where there is good and sufficient cause.
In the case of pregnant employees, employees who have recently given birth and breastfeeding employees, the employer is bound to take measures to protect their health and safety, after a risk assessment is made that reveals a risk to the safety or health or an effect on the pregnancy or breastfeeding of the employee. Such measures include:
If the employer acts in accordance with applicable health and safety legislation but is still unable to comply with the obligations set out above, the employee concerned must be given special maternity leave for the whole of the period necessary to protect her safety or health, without prejudice to her other maternity leave entitlement as already described above.
During such special maternity leave, the employer must pay the employee concerned, for the whole of the period necessary to protect her safety or health, a special allowance equivalent to the rate of sickness benefit payable in terms of the Social Security Act (Chapter 318 of the laws of Malta).
An employee who is the parent of an adopted child (i.e. a person under eighteen (18) years of age) shall be entitled to an uninterrupted period of eighteen weeks of adoption leave whenever a child is adopted. Such leave shall commence on the date when the child passes into the care and custody of the adoptive parent or parents by means of a judgment of a court of law in the country of origin.
An employee on adoption leave shall be entitled to the first fourteen weeks of adoption leave with full wages. If the employee chooses to avail himself of any additional adoption leave beyond the fourteen weeks, the employer shall not be obliged to pay any wages for those extra weeks of adoption leave This shall be without prejudice to any relevant benefit in respect of any period of adoption leave which goes beyond fourteen weeks in terms of the Social Security Act (Chapter 318 of the laws of Malta) to which the employee may be entitled if he chooses to avail himself of adoption leave beyond the paid fourteen weeks.
An employee intending to avail themselves of adoption leave must notify the employer at least two weeks before the adoption leave begins, in so far as is reasonably practicable. This must be done in writing, informing the employer of the date when the employee intends to make use of such entitlement.
In the case of a single parent, adoption leave shall be enjoyed by that parent.
In the case of more than one parent:
The law grants a period of up to one hundred (100) hours of paid leave to employees who undergo the process of medically assisted procreation, whether in or outside Malta.
This entitlement covers all treatments or procedures that include the in vitro handling of human oocytes, spermatozoa or embryos for establishing a pregnancy. This includes, but is not limited to, intra-uterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, embryo transfer, gamete, germinal tissue and embryo cryo-preservation and oocyte and embryo donation.
Employees, both male and female, are entitled to be granted up to four months of unpaid parental leave on the grounds of birth, adoption, fostering or legal custody of a child to enable them to take care of that child, until the child has attained the age of eight years. This is a non-transferable entitlement.
Parental leave shall be availed of in established periods of one (1) month each. The employer and the employee may together decide whether to grant the parental leave on a full-time or a part-time basis, in a piecemeal way or in the form of a time credit system.
Importantly, an employee must have at least 12 months continuous service with their employer to be eligible to apply for Parental Leave, unless a shorter period is agreed to.
In case of sickness, an employee is to be granted sick leave whenever such employee presents a medical certificate that certifies that one is incapable to work.
A full-time employee is entitled to the equivalent in hours of two working weeks on full pay, per calendar year, less the set sum for sickness benefit entitlement established under the Social Security Act (Chapter 318 of the Laws of Malta).
The first three days of any claim for sick leave shall be paid in full by the employer, while the employee will be paid for sickness benefit from the fourth day of sickness.
It is important to note that the amount of sick leave may vary according to the respective sector of industry, as specified in the Wage Regulation Order.
Employees are entitled to up to one year of injury leave i.e. leave on full wages, less the full amount of any injury benefit to which the employee may be entitled under the Social Security Act (Chapter 318 of the laws of Malta), in several scenarios of injury caused due to one’s employment.
These include scenarios where the employee suffers personal injury caused by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, or by any of the diseases specified in the Social Security Act (being a disease due to the nature of his work) and not due to any negligence on his part or to any contravention of safety rules.
Every employee shall be entitled to:
In the case of court testimony, no employee is entitled at law to special leave to attend court as a witness except in the case of workers in the hospital and clinics sector who are allowed special paid leave to attend court as witness in relation to police cases.
Part-time employees are entitled pro rata to the minimum entitlement of all public holidays and annual vacation leave, sick leave, birth leave, bereavement leave, quarantine leave, marriage leave and injury leave applicable in terms of the recognized conditions of employment, and to such other leave established by virtue of applicable employment legislation in Malta.
The pro rata leave entitlement of a part-time employee shall be computed in hours as a fraction of the total number of hours of leave entitlement of a comparable full-time employee.
The pro rata leave entitlement of a part-time employee shall be availed of as whole working days, with the equivalent number of hours being deducted from the pro rata leave entitlement calculated in hours.
When the residual hours of leave entitlement are less than the part-time employee’s working day, the remaining entitlement shall be availed of as part of a working day on one occasion.
At Empleo, we provide legal advice to employees on all matters outlined above, including advice on the minimum statutory requirements for the determination of working time, rest and break periods, leave entitlement and the preparation of employment contracts.
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.