Employers’ Association against further legislation on precarious employment

MEA says enforcement of present legislation is solution to 'unethical' employment, says precarious employment 'blown out of proportion'

Joseph Farrugia, MEA Director General
Joseph Farrugia, MEA Director General

The Malta Employers' Association is opposing further laws meant at tackling "precarious employment", dubbing the unprecedented effort from government and unions as a "problem blown out of proportion".

The MEA today presented a position paper that classified alleged precarious work practices in three categories - atypical, illegal and unethical - and calling for better law enforcement over current laws.

The MEA said atypical work includes work which does not conform to the standard full-time 40-hour a week on an indefinite contract. "Part-time employment and definite period contracts can never be associated with precarious work.

"This type of employment offer labour market flexibility which is of benefit to employees and employers alike. But even if one were to classify part-time and definite period contracts as 'precarious', statistics reveal that such employment contracts in Malta is significantly less than that prevailing in the EU," MEA director general Joseph Farrugia said.

As regards the other categories, Farrugia said that MEA would never defend employers with illegal work practices. "But the solution is an increase in law enforcement, there's no need for further legislation," Farrugia said, noting that currently there were only five enforcement officers within the labour office, even though these increased to 10 in the past weeks.

On unethical work conditions, MEA said it was the responsibility of the unions to raise employees' conditions of employment through collective bargaining.

Among its recommendations to curb abuses in employment, the association proposed that the government sets a minimum hourly rate to ensure that companies winning tenders are in a position to provide at least the legal minimum working conditions to their employees. "In the past, government even awarded €5 per hour tenders. You can imagine what conditions were granted to the same workers," Farrugia concluded.

MEA said that ultimately, further unnecessary legislation would affect negatively the employers and complicate the employers' life.

Actually government has not done enough to legislate against precarious employment - which belongs to the Middle Ages. A progressive society protects the employee - and this is in the interest of the employer. Also trade unions have still done very little re the harmony of the employee at work. Often decent, hardworking employees are harassed by frustrated individuals.