The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

Malta aims to be first EU country with legally enforced ‘right to disconnect'

Friday, 20 November 2020, 16:39 Last update: about 13 days ago

A legislative framework on remote working is expected in the near future, whilst Malta aspires to be the first European country to succeed in legally enforcing the concept of the right to disconnect. 

The right to disconnect is a worker’s right which allows workers to disconnect from work and refrain from work-related electronic communications such as emails or other messages, during non-work hours. 

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Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela said that there are ongoing dicussions in his office on the first draft of a legislative framework that regulates these two areas. 

Minister Abela inssited that this is a win-win situation for all and for the country’s aspirations for the coming years that goes beyond this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

These legal regulations will introduce more flexibility for employers and workers themselves while also benefiting our country’s economic competitiveness, he said. 

This matter was discussed during a meeting the Minister had with the leadership of the General Workers’ Union (GWU), for which the president, the secretary-general, and the secretaries of different sections of the union were present, as part of his work towards and open and honest social dialogue. 

During the meeeting, Abela highlighted how the future of work is already with us and so it is necessary to ensure proper working conditions. 

He pointed out how Malta has always been at the forefront in order to protect workers’ conditions, and referred to the establishment of the minimum wage, with Malta being one of the first countries in the EU to introduce the national minimum wage years ago. 

‘A few years ago, by means of a historic pact, a national agreement was sealed regarding the increase in the national minimum wage. Abela added that in the same agreement, the Low Wage Commission was established which is currently studying what is going on in Malta in order to be able to present a report to the Prime Minister as decided in that same social pact. 

In addition, Minister Abela discussed the ongoing work on revieweing the wage regulation orders, which regulate working conditions in different sectors of employment, and which have not been updated for many years. 

He explained that the working group which was set up, finished its preliminary work that sought to achieve uniformity across different sectors. 

These proposals will then be discussed before the Employment Relations Board, Abela said. 

He also highlighted that an amedment to the employment law governing the Industrial Tribunal was carried out to ensure that the tribunal has jurisdiction over Definite Contracts, which will be brought before Parliament in due time. 

Minister Abela thanked the GWU for their work to improvw the working conditions for many workers.

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