In response to the concerns from Maltese employer and business associations towards the new EU Directive for parents and carers, MEP David Casa says the directive is ‘a step in the right direction’ but it must’nt hurt Maltese business.
In an article published in the Times of Malta this morning, the CEO of GRTU – Chamber of SMEs, Abigail Mamo and the Director General of the Maltese Employers Association, Joseph Farrugia, have expressed concerns over the EU Directive on Work Life Balance.
MEP David Casa has been leading the negotiations on the new directive since October 2017 and on Thursday managed to pass the legislation through both the European Parliament and Council of Ministers.
If successful, the directive will introduce four key measures which include, 5 days of leave for carers with sick relatives, employee’s rights to request flexible working arrangements with their employer, 4 months of parental leave (2 months paid and non-transferable), alongwith 10 days of paternity leave remunerated at the member state’s national sick pay level.
This last point has created contention with Malta’s employer and business associations.
Strain on small businesses
Speaking to the Times of Malta, Abigail Mamo explained that it should be the member state and not the European level that should decide paternity leave. She said that it was a ‘big step’ for Maltese employers because it would put extra strain on current human resources for small and micro businesses.
She added that the best way to visualise this, you would need to mulitiply the number of births in 2017, which sat at 7,712 births with the number of new paternal days off. The number would sit at 77,120 days off, she said.
When asked to respond to Mamo’s comments, Mr Casa said that the directive would have a lot of benefits. Not only would it see the caring responsibilities shared between both parents, it would also play a key role in closing the Maltese gender employment gap, making women more active participants and thus benefitting the economy and the SMEs themselves.
‘The directive will play a role in reducing the gender employment gap, which costs the EU in excess of 370bn euros per year (Eurofound 2016)’, Casa said.
Who funds the leave?
Joseph Farrugia of the Malta Employer’s Association stated that although there were benefits of creating a better work and life balance which would retain employees, it wasn’t clear how it would be funded.
‘The MEA shall strongly resist any further financial burdens on employers, and insist that, in line with many other countries, it is government who has to finance such social services.’, Farrugia told the Times.
Casa responded that indeed the Directive does not currently establish how the leave would be paid as it ‘goes beyond our competence’. he explained.
But, in the same breath, Casa stressed that he understood the scepticism in the business community but that the costs of these new directives ‘should not fall to the business community’.
His recommendation was with the Maltese economy reported to be in surplus, there should be a consideration of the government using this surplus to implement these rights for employees.
Casa explains that the paternal leave was a ‘step in the right direction’ for Malta ensuring that there is a right and opportunity for employees to have crucial time with their children.
It is now up to the Parliament Plenary to vote on the proposals in the weeks to come. Should it be successful, the Directive would be introduced across the EU.