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Wages and Benefits

As of 2011, Malta’s average wage is €14,466 per year.

Highest paid employees are those in the financial sector, at an average of €18,159 per year. Workers in the tourism industry earn an average of €12,077 per year, while those in health and social work earn an average of €14,633 and public administrator workers earn and average of €16,293.

According to Legal Notice 378 of 2009, Malta’s national minimum wage for 2011 is €153.45 for employees aged 18 years and over, €146.67 for employees aged 17 years, and €143.83 for employees aged under 17 years.

As of January 2012, the minimum wage in Malta is therefore higher than Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia, Slovakia, Poland, and Portugal, but lower than Spain, Slovenia, Greece, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, and Luxembourg. However, the take-home pay of workers in Malta is relatively higher than the rest of Europe, due to Malta’s low taxation rates (15%-25% income tax).

All employees in Malta receive annual pay increases relative to the cost of living. This remuneration is governed by Malta’s Wages Councils or through collective agreements in specific industries. Remunerations are applied uniformly to Maltese and foreign workers.

Payment frequency varies from job to job. Payments are commonly made by cheque or direct deposit. Hourly, daily, and piece rates are paid at least twice a month. Salaries are paid at least once a month.

Employees may receive extra reimbursement in the form of a company vehicle, lodging, communication expenses, and health insurance. Benefits such as company cars are considered as taxable income, and are set a taxable value by the Maltese tax authorities.

Foreign workers can generally expect to earn less in a similar position in Malta than they did in their home country, particularly expats from Northern Europe, North America, and parts of Asia and Australia. However, the cost of living in Malta is also relatively inexpensive. Opportunities for career advancement are also relative to the small size of the local business market and are therefore fewer compared to larger European countries. Thus for most expats, the choice to live and work in Malta is based on quality of life, rather than salary or career advancements.

Employee Rights

According to Maltese law, maximum work hours are 48 hours per week (40 hours work time and 8 hours over time) unless the employee voluntarily consents to work for longer periods. Overtime must be paid extra.

Within 8 days of the commencement of an employee’s contract, the employer must provide a written statement showing the conditions of employment.

Every employee is entitled to a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24 hour work period. Employees must receive a minimum 24 hour rest period, in addition to the aforementioned rest period, per seven day work week.

Employees are entitled to rest breaks when the working day is longer than 6 hours.

Time Off/Vacation

Every worker in Malta is entitled to paid annual leave of at least the equivalent of 4 weeks and 4 working days, calculated on the basis of a 40 hour work week/8 hour work day. From this paid annual leave, a minimum of 4 weeks may not be replaced by an allowance in lieu.

Employers must also grant 15 further hours of paid time off per year for urgent family matters.

Malta has 14 national and public holidays. No extra days off in lieu are given if holidays fall on a Saturday or Sunday.

According to Maltese law and collective agreements, upon presentation of a doctor’s certificate, employees are also entitled to wages during illness.

Maternity & Parental Leave

Employees may apply for paid maternity leave for an uninterrupted period of up to 14 weeks. At least 4 weeks notice must be given to the employer before the commencement of this period.

Six weeks of this 14 week period must be taken following the birth of a child/children. Four weeks of this 14 week period may be taken immediately prior to the birth of a child/children. The remaining weeks may be added on to either of these periods.

In the private sector, unpaid parental leave may be granted to both men and women for the purpose of caring for a child following birth, adoption, or legal custody for a period of three months until the child is 8 years old.

In the public sector, unpaid parental leave may be granted to both men and women for the purpose of caring for a child following birth, adoption, or legal custody for a period of 1 year per child, or a one time period of 5 years. In the public sector, both parents may also share parental leave.

Part Time Employees

Part time employees, whose part time employment is their principal employment, are entitled pro rata to the minimum entitlement of all public holidays and annual vacation leave, sick leave, birth leave, bereavement leave, marriage leave, and injury leave applicable.

By Jess Gerrow, who traded city life in Canada for island life in the Mediterranean two years ago. She is a postgraduate marketing student, blogger, and freelance writer.