The Directive (EU) 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on Work-life balance for Parents and Carers, has been transposed into Maltese law on the 12th July 2022 through Legal Notice 201 of 2022 titled the Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers Regulations.
Legal Notice 201 of 2022 lays down the new minimum requirements in relation to paternity leave, parental leave and carers’ leave, and to flexible working arrangements for workers who are parents, or carers. The aim is to facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life for parents and carer, with the aim of achieving the goals of equality between men and women with regard to labour market opportunities as well as equal treatment at work.
Paternity leave will apply to fathers as well as equivalent second parents. Such paternity leave will be awarded irrespective of marital or family status. Fathers or equivalent second parents shall have the right to paternity leave of 10 working days that is to be taken on the occasion of the birth or the adoption of the worker’s child. Such paternity leave will have to be paid in full. Such paternity leave can be availed off irrespective of period of work or length of service undertaken.
This Legal Notice introduced carers’ leave in respect of workers who are taking care of a relative or a person in their household, which leave will have to be a minimum of 5 days per year and which is unpaid.
The carer’s leave can be availed of for a relative or a person who lives in the same household of the worker and a medical proof needs to be provided that such relative or person is suffering from an illness and is in need of care and support. A relative is defined as a worker’s son, daughter, parent, spouse or a partner in a civil partnership.
Both female and male employees may avail themselves of four months each of unpaid leave which has to be taken until the child has attained 8 years of age.
In virtue of the new Legal Notice 201 of 2022, the first two months of parental leave is paid on grounds of child birth, adoption, fostering or legal custody, at the same rate established for the sickness benefit entitlement. This will be divided as follows:
· Fifty per centum (50%) of the entitlement paid for parental leave of child/children have not attained four (4) years of age
· Twenty-five per centum (25%) of entitlement paid for parental leave of child/children who have attained the age of four (4) but not yet attained the age of eight (8) years.
While, previously Maltese legislation imposed non-transferability of parental leave from one parent to another for all the four months, with the introduction of the Work-Life Balance Regulations the non-transferability is only applicable to the first two months, whereby such leave may be availed at least for two weeks each. A worker applying for parental leave should give notice at least 2 weeks in advance specifying beginning and end of parental leave. An employer who receives notice of parental leave may only postpone it for justifiable reasons related to the operations of the place of work.
Furthermore, the worker retains the right to apply for promotion opportunities and can have the possibility to make arrangements for appropriate reintegration measures, which have to be agreed between the parties.
Flexible Working Arrangements
The Work-Life Balance Regulations gives employees who have children up to the age of eight (8) years and who act as carers, the right to request flexible working arrangements, which include remote working, work on reduced hours and flexitime. These arrangements may nevertheless be limited in duration, however, in such case, the worker has the right to request to return to the original working pattern where justified or due to changes in circumstances. Employers shall consider and respond to such request within two (2) weeks, giving reasons for any refusal or postponement of such arrangements.
Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of the Work-Life Balance Regulations shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to a fine of up to two thousand Euro (€2,000).
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For more information you can contact one of our Team Members at Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates.