Local employers are empowered to legally terminate their employees' employment during the probation period need or necessity to provide a reason to justify such dismissal.

The common and default probation period is of 6 months. However, the length of this period may vary as agreed and established in the contract between the employer and the employee.

Nonetheless, this is not the case when the employee is a pregnant woman. In such case and according to the Protection of Maternity (Employment) Regulations – the employer is legally obliged to hand in a justification of the dismissal in writing. Needless to say, the reasons provided must prove to be a "good and sufficient cause".

If it is the case where the employer provides no reason for such termination of employment, or if the dismissed pregnant employee feels that the reason for dismissal provided by the employer was unfair and unjust, said employee has the legal right to file a complaint before the Industrial Tribunal within 4 months from the official date of the dismissal.

On the 9th of July 2020, the Industrial Tribunal decided by virtue of Decision No. 2664 that the reasons provided by the employer for a dismissal of a pregnant employee during probation period must be clear and unequivocal. Moreover, it stated that said reason/s must hold a good and sufficient cause.

It-Tribunal jiddeċidi li l-liċenzjament tar-Rikorrenti Maria Caruana waqt li kienet tqila u filperijodu ta' prova minn mas-Soċjetà Intimata GCS Accounting Limited saret bi ksur talArtikolu 12A(ċ) tar-Regolamenti dwar il-Ħarsien tal-Maternità (Impjieg) Legislazzjoni Sussidjarja 452.91.

The above conclusion was stated by the tribunal whilst assessing the facts of Maria Caruana vs GCS Accounting Malta Ltd whereby the employer had dismissed the pregnant employee on the basis of serious mistakes and a matter of conflict of interest during her work for the employer. After a thorough analysis of the facts of the case, the tribunal concluded that the reasons provided by the employer for the dismissal of the pregnant employee were unfair and unsubstantiated and awarded the dismissed employee €10,000.

The above, is a clear illustration that the employee was highly protected by both the law and ultimately the tribunal even though she was unfairly dismissed during her probation period.

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.