Last Updated on Thursday, 3 December, 2020 at 4:00 pm by Andre Camilleri
Minister Carmelo Abela with a message calling for the updating of a legal framework that addresses the realities of today’s and tomorrow’s work and that protects the interests of workers, employers, and the country’s economic competitiveness
Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela, responsible among others for working conditions, organised a national conference on labour law. This coincides with the fact that the Ministry is currently undergoing preparatory work to update this same law for the realities of today’s and tomorrow’s work. This conference, which is the first of its kind, discussed the theme of the future in the field of employment, with representatives of the workers, employers, and entities concerned.
In his address, Minister Abela explained how “the purpose of this conference is not only to speak about the future of employment as a distinct concept, but to take another step forward with regard to working conditions and to make industrial relations more efficient.”
During this conference, the conclusions of four working groups were presented which discussed the following topics: The work of the industrial tribunal; the future of employment; the balance between work time and private life and the protection of workers’ working conditions; and the investment of entrepreneurs in cases of extraordinary crisis. Among the themes dealt with in these working groups was the theme of remote working and the right to disconnect. The future of employment was also discussed from a technological point of view, which is known as the digital economy.
Minister Abela spoke about how it is clear that technological developments, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and changes in industrial relations and the workplace are radically changing what we are used to. He mentioned that it is crucial for the government and civil society to analyse what the country is going through and that timely action is taken. According to Minister Abela, the future of employment is already with us.
Minister Abela emphasised what he announced recently, that Malta must aspire to be one of the first at a European level to legally put into force the concept of the right to disconnect. At the same time, work is underway on a legislative framework on remote working. “We want flexibility for employers and for the workers themselves while always looking at how we improve Malta’s economic competitiveness”, said Minister Abela.
Minister Abela also mentioned how the measures taken by the Government in response to the pandemic, together with the resilience of the labour market, ensured that high levels of employment were maintained, with the employment rate being 73 percent in the second quarter of 2020, 0.2 percentage points higher than that recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2019. Moreover, Malta’s unemployment rate in July 2020 was 4.3 percent, well below the EU average of 7.2 percent. In October, the unemployment rate decreased to 3.9 percent.
In his conclusion, the Minister responsible for working conditions also referred to work being done to update the Wage Regulation Orders for different sectors in a modern economy. At the same time work is being done to broaden the relevance of the Industrial Tribunal. The Government will continue to listen and discuss but, finally, the time will come when we take decisions in the interests of workers, employers and employment in general.