Government moves to regulate temping agencies

Temping agencies will have to obtain a licence to operate under new rules in force next year as government moves to clamp down on foreign worker abuse

Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul announcing the new rules for temping agencies that will come into force in 2024
Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul announcing the new rules for temping agencies that will come into force in 2024

Government intends to clamp down on abuse by temping agencies that import workers from outside the EU with new rules requiring them to acquire a licence to operate.

The rules announced by Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul on Wednesday will require temping agencies to deposit €20,000 in a special fund from which workers will be paid if the agency loses its licence.

Agencies that employ more than 20 workers will have to deposit an additional 2% of the annual wage bill in the fund.

“This fund will be distributed to workers who lose their job if the agency loses its licence to operate because of some infraction,” Ellul said.

The new rules will come into effect on 1 April 2024 but operators will have until 1 June to adjust their operations accordingly. Temping agencies can start applying for a licence on 1 January.

A working committee will be set up to examine the information provided by the temping agencies as part of a due diligence process to obtain the licence. The licence will cost €3,000 and €1,500 for every year it is renewed.

Ellul said the law will impose fines between €5,000 and €30,000 and contemplate the withdrawal of licences if temping agencies are found guilty of abuse.

Agencies that lose their licence or fail to obtain a licence will be disqualified from public contracts and will not be authorised to bring over workers from outside the EU.

“The new rules ensure people are employed with dignified working conditions and are aimed to cut out abuse,” Ellul said. “This is a significant change in industrial law that introduces a regulatory regime that is serious and professional.”

The Department for Industrial and Employment Relations will carry out a supervisory role to eliminate abuse and an appeals board will be created.

“The law will ensure the country attracts workers of quality in sectors where they are truly needed. We will not tolerate situations where workers pay exorbitant fees to get a job in Malta or have these fees deducted from their wages,” Ellul insisted.