Updated | GWU disagrees with government over suspension of new employment rules

The General Workers’ Union disagrees with government’s decision to suspend three legal notices, including one dealing with leave entitlement, after employers' objections

The GWU says the new work conditions ensure all employees benefit from conditions that many unionised workers already enjoy
The GWU says the new work conditions ensure all employees benefit from conditions that many unionised workers already enjoy

Updated with The Malta Employment Lawyers Association 

Government’s decision to suspend new rules on work conditions has come under fire from the General Workers’ Union.

The union said on Wednesday it “absolutely disagreed” with the decision, which was taken after four employer organisations decided to boycott meetings of the Employment Relations Board in protest.

The employer organisations claimed that the new rules that came into force on 10 August, were introduced without consultation.

However, the GWU insisted that the rules formed part of the discussions that had been going on for two years within the Employment Relations Board between all social partners.

“The GWU is willing to discuss matters, but will not budge on its principles… the new rules were intended to implement measures that many unionised workers already benefit from through collective agreements,” the union said.

The union said it believed that all workers, irrespective of whether they are unionised or not, should enjoy the same rights and conditions at the work place.

The GWU said it could not understand why anyone could be against workers receiving an itemised payslip with details on payments received and leave entitlement.

It also reiterated that unutilised leave should be transferred to the following year.

“In a work environment that is continuously changing with employers enjoying higher profits, workers expect by right to benefit from the success that companies and the country are passing through,” the GWU said. 

READ ALSO: Vacation leave rules retracted after employers boycott employment board

Employment lawyers welcome suspension 

Lawyers specialised in employment welcomed the suspension of the regulations, which they said were introduced by stealth.

The Malta Employment Lawyers Association on Wednesday said the government had failed to consult with key stakeholders and had to “hastily roll-back its piecemeal attempt at patching up some laws”.

The lawyers said they were looking forward to the official repeal of the legal notices and offered to participate in consultations on the law.

“We hope that real progress will be made sooner rather than later,” the statement read.

New vacation leave regulations

  1. As from January 1, 2019, unless otherwise agreed in any applicable collective agreement, the employer may only utilise up to the equivalent of 12 working days from the annual leave entitlement for the purposes of any type of shutdown, including temporary closure of whole or part of the premises by the employers for bridge holidays or any other short periods of shutdown. Such period must be communicated to employees by the end of January.
  2. Once leave from the annual entitlement has been agreed to by the employer and employee, it can only be cancelled if both sides agree.
  3. Annual leave shall continue to accrue in favour of an employee during the period when they are on maternity, injury or sick leave. Such provision may apply irrespective of whether this leave is fully paid, partially paid or unpaid.
  4. When a public or national holiday falling on a day of work or on a weekly day of rest, not being a Saturday or a Sunday, falls within the period of maternity leave, the employee shall be entitled to the equivalent hours of an additional day of annual leave.
  5. Any period of pre-arranged leave coinciding with a period of maternity, sickness or injury leave shall be carried to the subsequent year if such leave could not be availed of during the same year.
  6. In case of termination of employment, all the leave accrued during a period of maternity leave, sickness or injury that had not been availed of, must be paid in accordance with the Organisation of Working Time Regulations. Any person who contravenes these provisions is liable to a fine of up to €465.

New payslip regulations

  1. The employer shall be bound to give his employees an itemised payslip either before or on the date when wages are due. Employers contravening these regulations could be liable to a fine of between €500 and €1,165.
  2. The itemised payslip must contain, among other things, the total wages paid, the number of normal and overtime hours worked and the respective pay rates for Sundays or public holidays if applicable, the annual leave and sick leave balance to date for that calendar year and any breakdown of any bonuses, allowances and commissions received.
  3. Any deduction affected, including national insurance contribution, tax and others, must be included.
  4. If the payslip is not given, employers must present proof which exculpates them from any liability beyond reasonable doubt.