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Employment of people with disabilities is currently regulated in the “Employment of People with Disabilities Act” (Chapter 210 of the Maltese Laws), and at the same time the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) has set up and maintains a register of people with them to this day Disability.
The 2% quota rule implemented by Law II of 1969, as amended by Laws XIV of 1969, XXII of 1976, XI of 1977, XIII of 1983 and XXVI of 1995, and Legal Notice 411 of 2007, has recently been implemented by Law No. XXII of 2015. According to this rule, companies with at least twenty employees should employ a quota of disabled people (at least 2%). This quote was prepared by the Minister responsible for Labor, after consulting the Advisory Committee on Disability Resettlement (DRAO), and the person employed to fulfill the quote is selected from the register of the Employment and Training Corporation-ETC.
In January 2015, the Malta Employment Association (MEA) published a report stating that the element of positive discrimination seeks to offset the disadvantages and barriers that people with disabilities face when looking for work. Despite the legal provisions regarding the quota rule (although the implementation has not been enforced for several years), many companies have chosen not to employ a person with disabilities in recent years.
As an encouragement, the new regulation stipulates that employers who do not comply with this quota must pay an annual contribution of EUR 2,400 for each person with disabilities who should be in their employment, limited to a maximum of EUR 10,000 for each person / Company that does not meet the stated quota.
Employment of people with disabilities is also regulated by the Equal Opportunities (People with Disabilities) Act (Chapter 413 of the Laws of Malta), which, among other things, prevents employers from discriminating against people with disabilities in relation to:
- Procedures relating to applications for employment;
- the hiring, promotion or dismissal of employees;
- Employee compensation;
- Job training; and
- other conditions and privileges related to employment.
In addition, the Kummissjoni Nazzjonali Persuni b’Dizabilità (KNPD) stated in its 2010 report that employers also have an obligation to assign persons with disability obligations that are suitable for their abilities and potential.
Obstacles to the employment of disabled people
According to the latest MEA report, there are currently 1,300 registered disabled people employed in Malta, 900 of them in the public sector, while 300 registered disabled people are currently on the unemployment list. Signs are that there could be much more as a number of disabled people are being discouraged from registering for employment due to the low likelihood of actually finding work.
As MEA noted in the above report, a large number of companies have been reluctant to employ people with disabilities in recent years. This can be due to several objective obstacles, including but not limited to:
- the fact that disabled people are not a homogeneous group as disabilities cover the spectrum of situations and therefore many employers do not understand how to accommodate them;
- Lack of information as employers are often not informed about incentives related to employing people with disabilities and about obligations in employing people with disabilities;
- the fact that multiple vacancies are not ideal for people with a disability (e.g. skilled manual jobs).
On the other hand, unemployment of people with disabilities has also been linked to the impracticability of the above 2% quota rule. In fact, employers who have chosen not to employ people with disabilities have not yet been asked to pay sanctions and / or fines. Since the 2007 Legal Notice 411 mentioned above was recently enforced, this situation may change in the coming months.
Key points of the measures of the new government
In addition to the enforceability of the 2% quota rule, the new regulations contain further details on the quota rule to be applied by employers. In this regard, this regulation:
- Notes that the Minister in charge of Labor must set a standard percentage of people with disabilities to be employed by companies with more than 20 employees; and
- provides that the same minister can fix a special percentage for employment in a trade or a branch or in a branch or part of a trade or for employment with a class of employers.
In addition, companies that employ a person (or persons) with disabilities are exempt from paying social security contributions for those employees. These companies are also entitled to a maximum tax credit of € 4,500 for each person with a disability.
The new regulations stipulate that employers who do not meet the 2% quota rule will receive a graduated contribution / fine as follows:
- Employers pay a third of the contribution / fine for 2015.
- in the course of 2016, the amount of the contribution / fine will be increased to two thirds of the amount due;
- During 2017, the full amount of the contribution / fine to be paid will apply.
However, employers can be authorized by the minister responsible for labor to disregard the 2% quota rule. This may only be possible if the employer can prove that no person is suitable for a work position in this company.
The contributions / fines paid by employers who do not meet the 2% quotas will be administered by the ETC and transferred to the Lino Spiteri Foundation.
This foundation, established on May 25, 2015, was created to improve the inclusion of vulnerable people in employment by empowering the people themselves and the employers who hire them. The Foundation aims to achieve and exceed adequate and sustainable levels of employment for people with disabilities, mental health problems and the vulnerable, all of whom can contribute to the country’s economy and civil society in general.
Indeed, Malta is still one of the lowest ranking countries in the EU when it comes to employing vulnerable groups. Indeed, taking up employment is around 5% of the potential number of people represented in this demographic. For comparison: some EU countries are approaching 40%.
The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject. A professional should be obtained about your particular circumstances.