Labour government planning ‘right to disconnect’ law for workers

Disconnect law will allow workers the right not to answer emails and messages after work hours

Malta wants to become the first European member state to introduce a law that will allow workers the “right to disconnect”, that is, the right not to answer work-related emails or messages after working hours.

Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela said he also expects a legislative framework on remote working to be proposed in the near future.

“There are ongoing discussions on the first draft of a legislative framework that regulates these two areas. This is a win-win situation for all and for the country’s aspirations for the coming years that goes beyond this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. These legal regulations will introduce more flexibility for employers and workers themselves while also benefiting our country’s economic competitiveness,” Abela told a meeting of the General Workers’ Union (GWU), for which the president, the secretary-general, and the secretaries of different sections of the union were present.

Abela listened first-hand about various areas related to the field of employment and the conditions of workers from the same union secretaries.

Abela mentioned how the ‘future of work’ was already present and that it was necessary to ensure proper working conditions. “Malta has always been at the forefront in order to protect workers’ conditions,” he said, referring to the establishment of the minimum wage, with Malta being one of the first countries in the EU to introduce the national minimum wage years ago.

The same law established the Low Wage Commission which is currently preparing a report to the Prime Minister.

Abela spoke about ongoing work on reviewing wage regulation orders, which regulate working conditions in different sectors of employment, and which have not been updated for many years. A working group’s proposals will be eventually discussed before the Employment Relations Board.

Abela also said an amendment to employment law governing the Industrial Tribunal was carried out to ensure the tribunal had jurisdiction over definite contracts, which will be brought before Parliament in due time.

“The contribution of the GWU has continued for a number of years, and has meant that workers today are enjoying better conditions. This will remain a government that listens and pays attention to what social partners say so that together we continue to move forward and improve the quality of life for workers and their families.”

More in National