Work on a legal framework governing employment has kicked off; flexibility of the gig economy taken into account

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The Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Hon. Carmelo Abela announced that his Ministry has taken the first steps toward the establishment of a legal framework providing for the requirements of today and tomorrow’s working world. This framework is also envisaged to be flexible enough to respond to an ever-evolving economy which is characterised by phenomena such as the so-called gig economy. Minister Abela explained that in order for Malta to retain a competitive edge, it is crucial that the working world is viewed through a new lens. Minister Abela highlighted this at a brainstorming session attended by different professionals who also discussed the constantly changing working world shaped mostly by the impact of technology. Those present also brought up the potential impact of these changes on employee and employer relationships as well as whether any changes are being considered by the sector of professionals in relation to the legal framework governing employment.

Minister Abela noted that the economy is increasingly favouring flexibility and non-traditional forms of employment. He went on to mention how the widespread use of technology is changing traditional forms of employment as well as the relationship between employees and employers. These new realities can benefit employees, workplaces and consumers as they can render work more adaptable to any needs that may arise and to the need for a flexible way of life. Minister Abela explained that central to all of this is the need for continuous social dialogue between the Ministry and representatives of employees and employers as well as updates to laws that govern employment and industrial relations.

In his address, Minister Abela spoke about the current pandemic and how it has served to show that the Maltese public is able to adapt to every situation no matter how difficult. We have learned to leverage technology to facilitate work from home, and this work arrangement can also help in striking a better work-life balance as it affords employees more flexibility. Abela emphasized the importance of further diversifying our economy through the concerted efforts of government, representitives from different sectors within society and representitives from the private sector.

The professionals present thanked Minister Abela for taking the initiative to bring together different professionals and discuss with them a sustainable future for the working world. They went on to remark that the COVID-19 pandemic provides an excellent opportunity for taking stock of where Maltese society and the local economy are headed. They added that such an exercise could lead to a “quantum leap” from quantity to quality within sectors that are prioritised in the interest of the economy and society, and could help determine how professionals could contribute and assist in this regard. Suggestions with regard to the future of social dialogue in Malta were also forthcoming, with those present recommending an analysis of economic pillars that government believes will be crucial in the next 15 to 20 years. The discussion also touched upon the need for social dialogue to be forward-looking and take into account the United Nation’s 2030 goals, particularly that of developing sustainable cities and communities and digitalisation in its entirety.

Minister Carmelo Abela thanked the participants for their contribution and took note of all recommendations. He also promised that as the Minister responsible for dialogue and consultation, he would engage in further talks with representatives of the sector of professionals.

This meeting was attended by Ms Simone Vella Lenicker from the Chamber of Architects, Mr Fabio Axisa from the Institute of Accountants, Dr Louis de Gabriele from the Chamber of Advocates, Notary Clinton Bellizzi from ll-Kunsill Notarili ta’ Malta and Dr David Vella from the Dental Association of Malta.