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Employment Law in Malta and Industrial Relations

— April 7, 2020

Maltese Labour laws are some of the most complicated in the world. If you want to start a company in Malta, you might have to talk to a lawyer to walk you through all the different laws that exist.

Every country has some form of employment law that governs how workers can be hired, what the employers’ obligations are, and what rights the workers have. Malta has some of the most complicated employment laws and below, we will look at them and get a better sense of how they work.

An Overview

The 1974 Republican constitution in Malta gives all citizens the right to work and outlines the roles the state can play in ensuring that working conditions are maintained. It also outlines worker’s rights, how many hours they can work per week, their weekly rest day, the minimum working age, gender equality, vocational training, holidays without pay, and much more.

The Maltese Labour Laws

There are three main sources of labour laws in Malta: primary legislation, public service management code, and secondary legislation. Even with these three main sources of Maltese labour laws, there is subsidiary legislation that mainly comes from the European Union and is integrated into the laws of Malta.

When trying to understand Maltese labour laws, it is important to understand that they stipulate that there should be an employment contract, which is an agreement between a worker and an employer. This contract should provide details about wages, salary, duties, and more. The contract should be written and given to the employee within eight days of starting work. 

Before a company can begin operating in Malta and hiring employees, they must pay attention to:

  • The wage regulations order that outlines the conditions required for workers in certain industries
  • The employment and Industrial relations, also known as the Labour code
  • The employment commissions law and the employment and training services law
  • The public service management code. This law outlines the conditions for hiring workers in public administration

The Employment Law

This is one of the most important labour laws on Malta and it must be adhered to by foreign and Maltese companies before they give any worker a work permit. Companies must also comply with the Maltese Labour code if they would like to operate in Malta.

The Three Laws in Detail

As mentioned, there are three main sources of Maltese labour laws and they are as follows:

  • Primary legislation – These include the employment Industrial Relations Act, the Constitution of Malta, the Employment Commission Act, the Employment and Training Services Act and EU regulations
  • Secondary Legislation – These are pieces of law that are made in addition to the Employment Industrial Relations Act that are meant to add details on the implementation of the EU directives and provide the legal framework for the Employment Industrial Relations Act. They include the wage regulation orders, which contain regulations that control conditions of employment in certain industries. Some of the conditions set by these laws include conditions for sick leave as well as special leave, minimum wages, and maximum working hours
  • Public Service Management Codes – This legislation is for workers who are employed in public service. They were introduced in 2002 in place of the now-defunct EstaCode. The Management and Personnel office in the Office of the Prime Minister is responsible for the implementation of this law. 

Other Legislative Sources

In addition to the above pieces of legislation, there are the collective agreements that are implemented at enterprise level. They set the conditions for employment in the private sector. There are also judicial decisions and customs and practices, which come into effect if a decision needs to be made in an area not yet legislated.

Two ships on the water in front of the beautiful architecture of Valletta, Malta; image by Ines Bahr, via
Two ships on the water in front of the beautiful architecture of Valletta, Malta; image by Ines Bahr, via

Employment Contracts

Maltese Labour Law is based on the understanding that there will be contracts signed between workers and employers. The condition set for this understanding is that all conditions of employment will be respected. Even though a majority of employment conditions are governed by law, the law still leaves room for parties to agree on conditions of employment. The law recognises these agreements as long as they are made in good faith and are reasonable. 

If an area is already legislated, the law sides with the parts of the legislation that will favour the employee the most when these agreements are made. Collective agreements can also come into play and bind the employer and the members of the trade union negotiating on an employee’s behalf to the agreement. Under such collective agreements, other employees can decide to join in and be governed by the same agreements. 

A contract must be offered within eight days if the employee is hired for more than one month or if they are hired to work for more than eight hours per week. An alternative to the contract is a statement of working conditions, which must be given to the employee within the same time frame. 

Contracts can be signed for a fixed or indefinite period. A fixed contract can be renewed up to four years, upon which the employee is deemed to be under an indefinite contract. The only exception to this rule is when the employer has a good reason for keeping the fixed-term contract. Also, if an employee’s fixed contract lapses and they are retained, they are considered to be under an indefinite contract.


Maltese Labour laws are some of the most complicated in the world. If you want to start a company in Malta, you might have to talk to a lawyer to walk you through all the different laws that exist.

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