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Act XX of 2022 was enacted on the 20th December 2022 to partially transpose Directive (EU) 2019/1152 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union into Maltese Law.

This Act is aimed to amend provisions on the probationary period of fixed-term contracts under Article 36 of the Employment and Industrial Relations Act (Chapter 452 of the Laws of Malta), whereby as stipulated by Article 8 of Directive (EU) 2019/1152, Member States shall ensure that the length of such a probationary period is proportionate to the expected duration of the contract and the nature of the work.

These amendments stipulate that:

  • when an employment relationship is subject to a probationary period, that period shall be of six (6) months unless a shorter period is justified by objective reasons based on precise and concrete circumstances characterizing a given activity. 
    • In such case, when a fixed-term contract period is shorter than six (6) months the employer shall list in writing in that contract the objective reasons for which the contract is entered into for less than six (6) months, in which case the probationary period shall be one-third of the duration of the same fixed term contract.
    • However, in the case of the renewal of a contract for the same function and tasks, the employment relationship shall not be subject to a new probationary period.
  • For a fixed term contract of between six (6) months and fifteen (15) months duration, the probationary period shall be calculated on the basis of two (2) months probationary period per six (6) months contract duration.
  • For a fixed term contract exceeding fifteen (15) months duration, the probationary period shall be of six (6) months.

In regard to workers holding technical, executive, administrative or managerial positions and whose wages are at least double the national minimum wage established that year shall be on probation for a period of twelve (12) months.

Notwithstanding these changes to the law, the parties could still enter into an agreement for a shorter probationary period.

Act XX of 2022 also provides for the suspension of the probationary period in the case where the employee takes two (2) or more weeks of approved leave, whereupon such probationary period shall than be extended to the corresponding duration of leave. Furthermore, the employer cannot dismiss the employee during the suspensory period of probation.

For more information you can contact one of our Team Members at Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates.