Maltese law affords additional protection from termination of employment to:
- employees suffering from any personal injury by accident in the course of their employment or any occupational disease occurring in the service of that employer, unless termination is agreed to by the employee; and
- full-time female employees during the period of maternity leave or five (5) weeks following the end of such maternity leave, during which she may be incapable of working owing to a post-natal pathological condition arising out of confinement.
The Employment and Industrial Relations Act (Chapter 452 of the Laws of Malta) defines personal injury as including any disease and any impairment of a person’s physical or mental condition.
During such period of incapacity, wages less injury benefit payable under the Social Security Act (not including any benefit for permanent disability) shall accrue in favour of the employee as may be provided by or under any recognised condition of employment.
This rule however does not apply beyond the first twelve (12) calendar months of incapacity.
When the incapacity of the employee ceases, the employer has an obligation, within twenty-one (21) days from an application made by the employee, to:
- re-instate the employee in his former employment or,
- if the injury or disease has caused a disablement rendering the employee unfit for the former employment, reinstate the employee in other suitable employment:
The application for re-instatement made by the employee must be made in writing and sent to the employer within seven (7) days of the cessation of the incapacity for work.
A whole-time female employee cannot be dismissed by the employer:
- during the period of her maternity leave; or
- the period of five (5) weeks following the end of such leave in which she is incapable for work owing to a pathological condition arising out of confinement.
Any period of incapacity for work during maternity or following the pregnancy shall be deducted from the period of sick leave to which the employee is entitled at the time of such incapacity.
Sick leave is regulated by the Minimum Special Leave Entitlement Regulations S.L. 452.101, and states that employees who are unable to work due to a form of illness are entitled to paid sick leave. The length of sick leave entitlement may vary depending on the job type and industry. Unless the sector of work is covered by a specific Wage Regulation Order (‘WRO’), an employee is entitled to two (2) working weeks of sick leave annually, to be calculated in hours. In occasions of sickness, employees are required to provide a medical certificate by their medical practitioner to their employer to support their absence due to illness.
Note however that the period of incapacity which exceeds such entitlement shall be deemed to be leave of absence without entitlement to wages:
The employer may require the employee to produce evidence of such incapacity for work and may require the company doctor to visit such employee and to report to him on the condition of her health.
The employee shall, at the termination of maternity leave to which she is entitled or of the period of her incapacity for work be entitled to:
- resume work in the post she occupied on the commencement of her maternity leave, or
- resume in an analogous post if at the time when she becomes so entitled the post she formerly occupied is no longer available.
Where a female employee does not resume work or, after having so resumed work, abandons the service of her employer without good and sufficient cause within six (6) months from the date of such resumption, she shall be liable to pay the employer a sum equivalent to the wages she received during the maternity leave.