Legal Notice 201 of 2022, entitled the Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers Regulations (the “Legal Notice” or the “Legislation”), was published on 12 July 2022 and entered into effect on 2 August 2022.
The EU Directive on work-life balance for parents and carers, which entered into effect on 1 August 2019, focuses on promoting equality between men and women and addresses the underrepresentation of women in the labor market by establishing rights to paternity, parental and caregiver’s leave.
EU member states were given a three-year transposition deadline which ends in August 2022. The government of Malta opted to implement the minimum requirements set by the EU Directive but announced that expanded family leave entitlements will be introduced in the future.
The Legal Notice introduces the following changes:
The legislation introduces 10 working days of paid paternity leave per child to fathers or equivalent second parents, regardless of their marital or family status. The legislation doesn’t specify whether the newly introduced paternity leave is expected to be paid by the government or by the employer. The 10 days of leave are available to all workers regardless of their length of service and must be taken immediately after the birth of the child or the placement for adoption.
The Legal Notice introduces five working days of unpaid carer’s leave per year to care for a parent or a relative living in the employee’s household. Employees will be required to provide proof of illness and need for care.
Flexible working arrangements
Employees with children up to the age of 8 years, as well as those caring for a person living in their household, may request flexible working arrangements. A refusal of a flexible working arrangements request must be justified in writing by the employer within a two-week timeframe from the date of the request. Flexible working requests can include remote work, flexible hours or reduced hours among other options.
From 2 August 2022, two of the four months of parental leave entitlement available for each parent are now government-paid (previously unpaid). Two of the four months may now be transferrable, although the legislation is unclear as to whether it applies to the paid portion, the unpaid portion or any portion of the parental leave. Parental leave is paid at the same rate established for the sickness benefit entitlement under the Social Security Act. Leave may be taken in the following circumstances: birth, adoption of a child, child fostering in the case of foster parents, and upon obtaining legal custody of a child. Leave must be taken in a minimum of two-week intervals (unless agreed otherwise between the employee and the employer) up until the child reaches 8 years of age. Employees are required to give their employer a two-week notice prior to taking such leave.
Entitlement to parental leave is subject to at least 12 months of continuous employment with the same employer, regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time, and in a fixed or indefinite employment contract. In addition, the leave balance (if any) may be transferred with the employee when they change employment. As a result, the employer will be required to keep records of parental leave taken.
Parental leave must be distributed as follows:
- 50% must be taken from the birth of the child until age 4
- 25% must be taken when the child is between the ages of 4 and 6
- 25% must be taken when the child is between the ages of 6 to 8
Employees may request to take their parental leave in a flexible manner. Employers are not required to accept such requests, but a refusal must be justified in writing within two weeks of the request. Parental leave may not be suspended by the employer and the employee may not return to work prior to the agreed date unless otherwise agreed by the parties.
Employees are entitled to return to their jobs or to equivalent positions at the end of paternity, parental and carer’s leave. Dismissals on the ground of such leaves shall be deemed unlawful.