Naturally, paid leave is very vital for couples in the first few months ensuing the birth of their child. As the law currently stands in Malta, a pregnant woman who is in employment is entitled to 18 uninterrupted weeks of maternity leave, wherein the first 14 weeks are paid by the employer and the remaining 4 weeks are paid by the government. On the other hand, new fathers are entitled to 1 day of paid leave known as birth leave. Understandably the latter entitlement is significantly low, especially when compared to other European countries.

However, opportunely, by virtue of the EU Work Life Balance Directive, as from the 2nd August 2022, fathers will be able to take 10 days of paternity leave and such leave must be utilised within the first 15 days of the baby's birth. Such entitlement will be remunerated at full pay.

By way of background, such aforementioned Directive came into force in 2019 and the main purpose for such Directive was to improve access to family leave and flexibility arrangements. From the 1st of August 2019, all member states were given 3 years to transpose this directive into their national laws, thus the transition period is set to end on the 1st of August 2022.

Other changes which will also be introduced on the 2nd of August of this year include the following:

  • Parental leave: Parents will now be entitled to 2 months of paid parental leave each with an additional 2 months transferable between the parents. Thus, 2 months paid and 2 months unpaid. Currently, parents are entitled to a four-month period of unpaid parental leave for each parent.
  • Those individuals who are caring for a loved one shall be entitled to 5 days of unpaid leave per annum to care for such sick relative/s without having to utilise their vacation or sick leave.
  • Lastly, parents with children under the age of 8 will be entitled to request flexible working hours.

It goes without saying that further steps could certainly be taken to further improve the quality of life and to further enhance gender equality however it is without a doubt a step in the right direction.

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.