Fathers to get 10 days paid leave on the birth of their child in law revision

The legislative package, which transposes the EU’s Work-Life Balance Directive, will see parents receiving two months paid leave and two months unpaid

Key points

  • Fathers to receive 10 days paid leave on birth of their child
  • Parental leave will be split into two months paid leave and two months unpaid
  • Carers' leave introduced for workers caring for loved ones
  • Parents will have right to request flexible working arrangements for first eight years of child's life

Fathers will be receiving 10 days paid leave, while new parents can benefit from up to two months paid leave, under new laws reforming Malta’s paternal and parental leave laws.

Announced by Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul, father’s will benefit from 10 days of fully paid leave, as opposed to the single day of leave offered by the current law.

Regarding parental leave, parents will now be entitled to two months paid leave at the national parental leave rate. They will also benefit from anothe two months of unpaid leave which will be transferable from one parent to another.

Parental paid leave can be taken gradually across the first eight years of parenthood. In the first four years, the parents have to take 50% of the paid leave, or four weeks total. Between the fourth and sixth years, parents can take two weeks paid leave. The remaining two weeks of paid leave can be taken between the sixth and eighth years.

Parents will also have the right to ask for flexible working arrangements for the first eight years of their children’s lives.

“Once we introduce this in the law, it will be reflected in worker cotnracts and collective agreements,” Ellul said.

The legislative package will come into effect on 2 August. Government will finance all the measures until 2023. As from 1 January 2024, the private sector will have to finance its share.

Carers leave

Government will be introducing a new legal concept called “carers’ leave”, allowing parents to take unpaid time off to take care of an ill family member.

Such workers will be able to benefit from five days unpaid leave.

This form of leave will be available when a parent or worker has someone in the family who is unwell and needs caring for. It will also be available for people to take care of someone living in the same residence as them.

Since this is a new form of leave, this will not be taken from their own personal or sick leave.

EU Work-Life Balance Directive

The legislative package is a transposition of the EU directive that grants European citizens several minimum rights for work-life balance.

At a minimum, the directive requires at least 10 working days of paternity leave compensated at the national sick pay level, as well as a minimum of four months parental leave with parents entitled to compensation for at least two months. 

Carers leave and the right to request flexible working arrangements are also features of the directive. 

As an EU Member State, Malta was required to transpose the above measures into law by 2 August this year. 

Nationalist MP David Casa, who was the European Parliament's lead negotiator of the Work-Life Balance Directive, said that the law will grant unprecedented rights for Maltese and Gozitan families.

However, he pointed out that the law revision was being announced "just days before the transposition deadline".

Employers call for clarity

The Malta Employers' Association welcomed government's decision to stick to the minimum entitlements of the Work-Life Balance Directive but has complained that the costs of these measures will be carried by employers from 2024 onwards.

"The directive does not state that expenses related to work-life balance measures should be borne by employers. In fact, in many EU Member States it is government that pays for such social benefits. The cost to employers is not limited to payment for these benefits, but also the disruption and expenses incurred in replacing absent employees," the MEA said, adding that recommendations forwarded to government by employer bodies were largely ignored.

Employer bodies had proposed to eliminate the transferability of parental leave in the interest of achieving a better gender balance. "As things stand, there is the option that this entitlement will be shifted on female employees. It will also be difficult for employers to administer such leave."

The MEA also criticised the parliamentary secretary for repeatedly saying that these changes are ‘only the beginning’. "Government should state exactly what its medium and long-term plans are in this regard so that employers will be forewarned and may plan accordingly.  Vague statements only give rise to speculation and uncertainty which are, of course, detrimental to investment and initiative," the MEA said.