Naturally, paid leave is very vital for couples in the first few months ensuing the birth of their child. By virtue of Legal Notice 201 of 2022, on the 2nd of August 2022, the EU Work-Life Balance Directive (2019/1158) was transposed into Maltese Law. Such laws are now reflected in Subsidiary Legislation 452.125 (The Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers Regulations) (hereinafter ‘New Legislation’). This new legislation introduces additional leave entitlements pertaining to paternity leave, parental leave and carer’s leave. As well as flexible working arrangements for workers who are parents or carers.
Until now, the law in Malta posited that, 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 were entitled to 1 day of paid leave known as birth leave. Understandably the latter entitlement was significantly low, especially when compared to other European countries.
However, opportunely, by virtue of the EU Work Life Balance Directive, as from today, the 2nd August 2022, fathers are 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 is 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 was set to end on the 1st of August 2022.
Other changes which were also introduced on the 2nd of August 2022 include the following:
Parental leave: Parents are now 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. Before, parents were entitled to a four-month period of unpaid parental leave for each parent.
Those individuals who are caring for a loved one are now 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 are 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.