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Quarantine Leave: COVID-19 Legal Amendments

The Minimum Special Leave Entitlement Regulations, Subsidiary Legislation 452.101 (“Special Leave Entitlement Regulations”), lays down the minimum legal entitlements for employees who do not fall within the ambit of a  Wage Regulation Order, in relation to sick leave, birth leave, marriage leave, bereavement leave, injury leave and leave for jury service leave. Various industries fall within the scope a Wage Regulation Order under Maltese Law, including but not limited to the Construction Industry (SL 452.59 of the Laws of Malta), the Electronics Industry (SL 452.46 of the Laws of Malta), the Food Manufacture Industries (SL 452.76 of the Laws of Malta), Seamen (SL 452.51 of the Laws of Malta) and Travel and Insurance Agencies (SL 452.58 of the Laws of Malta).

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the mandatory quarantine which has been imposed on people who travel to Malta from anywhere in the world, the Special Leave Entitlement Regulations were amended on the 13th of March, 2020 to also include ‘quarantine leave’. This essentially means that special leave for quarantine applies to both employees that fall within scope of a Wage Regulation Order, and those who don’t and are thus in turn captured by the Special Leave Entitlement Regulations.

Quarantine leave is to be granted to all employees without loss of wages in cases where the employee is legally obliged to abide by a quarantine order to confine to a certain area or to certain premises as determined by the Superintendent of Public Health under the Public Health Act (Chapter 465 of the Laws of Malta) or by any public authority under any other law. An employer is entitled to request documentation from an employee on return to work, though at present it is not clear what documentation may be required in this regard.

Any employer or employee who contravenes or fails to comply with the Special Leave Entitlement Regulations can be found be guilty of an offence against the Employment and Industrial Relations Act (Chapter 452 of the Laws of Malta) and shall, on conviction, be liable to a minimum fine of four hundred and sixty-five euro and eighty-seven cents (€465.87).

Article written by Dr Maria Attard.

For more information, please contact Dr Ivan Gatt on igatt@gtgadvocates.com and Dr Maria Attard on mattard@gtgadvocates.com.

This article is not intended to impart legal advice and readers are asked to seek verification of statements made before acting on them.