Authors: Ann Bugeja & Christine Borg Millo
Overtime work is a common practice in many industries which are driven by high demand, tight deadlines, or the nature of certain jobs that require extended hours. However, the way overtime is regulated in Malta varies based on the industry and its unique dynamics.
Generally, the Overtime Regulations (S.L. 452.110) governs whole-time employees who are requested by their employer to work overtime. In accordance with the definition provided by the Organisation of Working Time Regulations (S.L. 452.87), an employee working overtime is employed to work for more than the average working week of forty (40) hours per week. Yet, this only applies when no specific Wages Council Wage Regulation Order (WRO) for a particular industry is applicable to the employee in question.
The overall rule is that working time cannot exceed the total amount of forty-eight (48) hours of work per week, eight (8) hours of which would be over time. This is unless the employee themselves have consented to working more than the weekly average of forty-eight (48) hours. The overtime rate for employees who do not classify under any WRO, is one and a half times (x1.5) the normal rate for work which is carried out in addition to the forty (40) hour work week.
The below are two key examples of how overtime rates are calculated for various categories of employees who work in two different industries.
The Travel and Insurance Industry
For instance, in the case of employees who are classified under the Travel and Insurance Agencies Wages Council Wage Regulation Order (S.L. 452.58), overtime is payable in respect of all whole-time employees, depending on whether the employee is a watchman, courier/representative or otherwise.
All employees, excluding watchmen, couriers and representatives are paid at a rate of time and a half (x1.5), for all time worked more than the normal working hours. The same rate applies for all-time worked in excess of nine (9) hours in any one day, and for all work performed after 1.00 p.m. on Saturday. However, the employees in this category are entitled to be paid at the rate of double time (x2) for all time worked on Sundays and customary holidays.
Notably, the minimum weekly wage of watchmen relates to a week of not more than forty-eight (48) hours of work, rather than the normal forty (40) hour week. This means that no watchman shall be required to work for more than forty-eight (48) hours in any week, and hence will not be paid for any overtime.
Thirdly, for employees working as couriers or representatives in this industry, the following rates apply;
- for all time worked in excess of forty (40) hours in a week of six (6) days or of seven (7) hours in any one day, time-and-a-half (x1.5); and
- for all time worked on customary holidays and the weekly day of rest, at double-time (x2).
Hotels and Clubs
The Hotels and Clubs Wages Council Wage Regulation Order (S.L. 452.66) categorises the work of employees in three parts; those working in guest houses, holiday complexes, tourist villages and licensed holiday flats; those working in clubs, and lastly those employees who work in coffee shops, bars and restaurants.
To give an example, whole time employees working at restaurants are entitled to payment of the rate of a time and a half (x1.5) for all hours of work in excess of eight (8) hours on any day, from Monday to Saturday. Secondly, for all hours of work on Sundays and customary holidays, the payable rate is of double-time (x2).
On the other hand, when it comes to employees working in clubs, all whole-time employees are entitled to overtime remuneration:
- for all time worked in excess of six (6) hours and 45 minutes, at the rate of time-and-a-half (x1.5);
- for all time worked in excess of forty (40) hours in any week, exclusive of any time paid for at overtime rates, at the rate of time-and-a-half (x1.5); or
- all time worked on the weekly day of rest, at double- time (x2).
In the case of watchmen, if the employee works more than ten (10) hours on each one day, he shall be paid at the rate of time-and-a-half (x1.5) whereas they are paid at double time (x2) for each day of rest and any customary holidays.
As examined above, WROs on overtime are not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Different wage regulation orders acknowledge the unique characteristics of various industries and seek to strike a balance between fostering economic growth, ensuring fair compensation, and prioritizing the well-being of workers. This tailored approach contributes to a more equitable and sustainable work environment across diverse sectors.
On this note, and in every case where an employee is requested to work overtime, the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Regulations (S.L. 452.126) entails that all employers are required to inform workers of the essential aspects of the employment relationship. This includes any arrangements for overtime and its remuneration and any arrangements for shift changes. Furthermore, the employer from whichever industry, must keep a register of the time paid for overtime or higher rates, during the period where the worker is employed. There is no exception to this requirement.
 This Wage Regulation Order applies to all employees in any undertaking or in part of an undertaking the activities of which consist wholly or mainly in the provision of services relating to travel (including freight by sea or air) or insurance or estate agency and for watchmen, telephone operators and other persons employed by shipping agents, travel agents, or contractors on board the ships whilst in the territorial waters of Malta.
 This applies to all persons employed in hotels, guest houses, holiday complexes or tourist villages, licensed holiday flats, clubs, coffee shops, bars and restaurants.