Authors: Ann Bugeja & Christine Borg Millo
According to the recent Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Regulations (S.L. 452.126), parallel employment by the employee is permitted at law. This means that:
- no employer can disallow an employee from taking up employment with any other employers, as long as it is outside the normal working schedule of their original employment; and
- no employer can subject the employee, who has undergone parallel employment, to any form of adverse treatment, for deciding to take up employment with another employer/s.
However, the law allows for exceptions to the rule. When any objective grounds are proven by the employer, the employee can be prohibited from carrying out parallel employment. Some objective grounds which prevent parallel employment may include:
- if the health and safety of employees or clients may be affected;
- if the protection of business confidentiality may decline;
- if the integrity of the public service might be negatively influenced;
- if the employer aims to avoid any possible conflict of interest from arising between the parties.
This list is provided by the Regulations, but it is not exhaustive.
The concept of parallel employment was discussed thoroughly in the case of Mark Muscat vs NGATT Consultancy Services Limited, decided on the 28th of August, 2023 by the Industrial Tribunal.
Muscat was employed with the defendant company on a part-time basis, from December 2019, holding a managerial post, and without an employment contract. During this period, he was also employed on a part-time basis with UEFA, as a Venue Media Manager. In his capacity as Venue Media Manager, Muscat was required to travel regularly to handle certain aspects of his duties with UEFA. His work with NGATT Consultancy was terminated on the 4th of March 2022, and this without him being provided with any formal warnings, valid reasons for his termination or performance improvement plans.
One of the reasons for why the defendant company terminated Muscat’s employment was due to several missed deadlines and the impact this had on the business. In fact, Muscat’s extended absence from his work with NGATT Consultancy, led to significant concerns, and was a breach of his employment obligations as a trusted manager and employee. Unfortunately, the commitment that Muscat had with UEFA was such that he neglected the needs of NGATT Consultancy.
Muscat confirmed that for a consecutive period of four (4) weeks, he travelled to Qatar on a UEFA engagement for the World Cup. During such time, Muscat admitted that he did not carry out any duties for the benefit of NGATT Consultancy, claiming that this was due to the fact that, during his stay in Qatar, he had no internet connection through Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity was very expensive. The validity of his claim that he had no internet connection for the whole duration in Qatar is doubtful, especially considering Qatar’s technological infrastructure. Indeed, NGATT Consultancy representatives tried to get in touch with him through different communication channels, but to no avail.
On the other hand, Muscat’s employer was fully aware of his part-time employment with UEFA from the beginning of his employment and had no objections to this. Neither did NGATT Consultancy prove any potential conflict of interest between the work that Muscat carried out for them and for UEFA. The latter was also aware of the parallel employment, giving him the go-ahead to proceed with the parallel employment.
In this case, the Tribunal did not find the parallel employment by Muscat to be detrimental to the defendant company. There was no possible conflict of interest which could have arisen with the existence of parallel employment that Muscat held with the two Companies, hence the exception provided by law was not satisfied.
Therefore, the fact that Muscat worked for UEFA as well as for NGATT Consultancy was not a good and sufficient reason to dismiss Muscat from his employment. The Tribunal went on to adequately compensate Muscat €18,600 payable to the employee within one (1) month from the date of decision.