Answer ... Indefinite and fixed-term employment contracts may be terminated by either party if there is ‘good and sufficient cause’. This term is not defined, but the law gives several examples of what does not constitute good and sufficient cause (eg, union membership, pregnancy or maternity leave, whistleblowing or the commencement of proceedings against the employer for breach of employment rights).
Employees are protected from termination by the employer during any period of incapacity for work caused by personal injury from an accident arising out of and in the course of employment, or by any of the occupational diseases specified in the Social Security Act, for a maximum period of 12 months. Similarly, an employee may not be dismissed while on maternity leave, and in the five weeks thereafter if she is incapable of working due to a pathological condition arising from pregnancy.
For both definite and indefinite contracts, the law imposes a probationary period, which the parties may contract out of. As a rule, during the probationary period the employment may be terminated at will by either party without any reason. One week’s prior notice of termination must be given if an employee has been in the employment of the same employer for a continuous period of more than one month. Special rules apply to employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave.
After the expiry of the probationary period, in the absence of good and sufficient cause, the employer may terminate the employment of the employee only in the event of redundancy. This term is not defined at law, and over the years there have been conflicting interpretations by the local tribunals and courts. The prevailing position is that a genuine redundancy is one where the employee’s job is abolished because it has become superfluous to the employer. On the other hand, the employee may terminate an indefinite-term contract by resigning at any time. In case of termination by the employer for redundancy and in case of the employee’s resignation, prior notice must be given.
As regards fixed-term contracts, if the terminating party does not have good and sufficient cause, early termination of the contract will give rise to a statutory obligation to pay the other party a sum equal to one-half of the full wages that would have accrued to the employee in respect of the unexpired period of the contract.
Under Maltese law, an employer is also entitled to terminate employment once the employee reaches pensionable age, as defined in the Social Security Act (Chapter 318, Laws of Malta)
Different rules on termination apply to public service employees.