The Malta Independent 22 July 2024, Monday
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Parliamentary Secretary vague on unenforced 2018 equal pay legal notice for temp agency workers

Sabrina Zammit Wednesday, 22 November 2023, 16:47 Last update: about 9 months ago

Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul could not explain the reason as to why a legal notice published in 2018, allowing equal pay for equal work, was unenforced, when asked by this newsroom.

In an interview carried out by this newspaper in September, PN spokesperson for Employment Ivan Castillo said that Legal notice 272, published on 10 August 2018 allowing "equal pay for equal jobs" for temporary workers after four weeks of performing the same job, was never included as part of the main regulations covering temporary agency workers.

Asked about the matter, Ellul said that after launching the new rules regulating temping agencies, "we are going to continue discussions so that this concept of equal pay for equal value will be extended", to the private sector.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that this concept is very much already enforced for workers within the public sector. However, there is no direct reference for this in the 2018 legal notice amending the current Temporary Agency Regulations.

Ellul was asked several times to provide an explanation as to why there was a five year gap, from 2018-2023 to address the issue, given that the when a legal notice is published it becomes law.

But in response, the Parliamentary Secretary said that work on the equal pay for equal job measure is ready, and "the work on it is done and the bill drafted".

Last September, PN MP Castillo said that over the last five years, temporary agency workers who qualified for equal pay have been denied it based on the failure to include the legal notice as part of the law. The planned government legal reform comes as a reaction to public uproar following a sharp increase in population, said Castillo, adding that this problem is a result of the economic plan based on population growth which was first implemented under former Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, and continued by Prime Minister Robert Abela.

Back in June, when asked by this newsroom, Muscat had denied that his government's economic model was based on population growth, which in turn creates cheap labour. The plan, he had said, was based on creating economic activity.

Castillo however pointed out that the government, under Muscat, ironically realised this problem and in 2018 had issued legal notice 272, which was aimed to amend the temporary agency workers regulations of the Employment and Industrial Relations Act. With the said amendment, the law was to be corrected and give temporary agency workers, which are mostly non-EU workers, the right to equal pay, after four weeks of filling the supposedly "temporary role".

Castillo had said that since there were no "real changes" in the law, temporary agency workers are not benefitting from such right as the law states that if the assigned job lasts less than 14 weeks, such right is not guaranteed. Castillo had said that despite this, if the first temporary agency worker is replaced by another temporary agency worker before the 14 weeks come to an end, then they will have "equal treatment regarding pay from the first day of assignment", which is unfair on the first temporary agency worker.

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