On the 20th of December 2022, the Employment and Industrial Relations Act (Chapter 452 of the Laws of Malta) was amended by virtue of Act No. XX of 2022.

By way of background, the scope of this Act is to partially transpose Directive (EU)2019/1152 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union.

The salient amendments carried out are outlined hereunder:

  1. With regards to article 36 of the Act, the following new sub-articles in relation to the obligation of proportionality of probationary period and the suspension of such probationary period have been added:

1a. In the case of fixed-term employment relationships, the length of such a probationary period shall be proportionate to the expected duration of the contract and the nature of the work. In the case of the renewal of a contract for the same function and tasks, the employment relationship shall not be subject to a new probationary period:

Provided that no fixed term contract shall be shorter than six (6) months unless a shorter period is justified by objective reasons based on precise and concrete circumstances characterising a given activity. Whenever an employer intends to enter into a contract of service for a fixed term with a prospective employee for a period shorter than six (6) months, the employer shall list in writing in that contract the objective reasons for which the contract is entered into for less than six (6) months:

Provided further that for a fixed term contract of between six (6) months and fifteen (15) months duration, the probationary period shall be calculated on the basis of two (2) months probationary period per six (6) months contract duration; and if, in terms of the preceding proviso, the fixed term contract is shorter than six (6) months, the probationary period shall be one-third of the duration of the same fixed term contract:

Provided further that for a fixed term contract exceeding fifteen (15) months duration, the probationary period shall be of six (6) months.

1b. Notwithstanding the provisions of sub-article(1a), workers holding technical, executive, administrative or managerial positions and whose wages are at least double the national minimum wage established that year shall be on probation for a period of twelve (12) months.

1c. In any case, the probationary period may, by agreement between the parties, be shorter than the respective periods stipulated in sub-articles (1a) to (1c) and, the probationary period shall be suspended in the case of any two (2) weeks or more of approved leave, whereupon the probationary period shall be extended to a corresponding duration of the leave. It shall be unlawful for an employer to dismiss a worker during the period of suspension of probation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.