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New Legislation on Temporary Agency Workers: Advancing Social Justice and Equal Treatment

By Dr. Aron Mifsud Bonnici, Managing Partner

Effective January 1, 2025, the Temporary Agency Workers Regulations, 2024, will usher in new principles of employment law in Malta. This legislation is designed to enhance the working conditions and rights of temporary agency workers, aligning with broader goals of social justice and anti-discrimination.

Key Elements of the New Regulations

The Temporary Agency Workers Regulations, 2024 ensure that temporary agency workers receive treatment equivalent to their directly employed counterparts. One of the central tenets of the new regulations is the principle of equal treatment. This principle mandates that temporary agency workers must enjoy the same basic working conditions as those hired directly for equivalent roles. This includes equitable pay, appropriate working hours, overtime compensation, rest breaks, statutory leave, public holidays, and protections for vulnerable groups such as pregnant workers and young individuals.

The regulations apply broadly, covering all temporary agency workers employed by both public and private entities. The inclusion of outsourcing agencies and their employees within the scope of these regulations ensures extensive coverage and protection across various employment practices.

A significant feature of the regulations is the prohibition of fees. Temporary work agencies and user undertakings are expressly forbidden from charging workers any fees related to their assignments. This measure protects workers from financial exploitation and ensures fair treatment.

Moreover, the regulations require that temporary agency workers be informed about permanent vacancies within the user undertaking, giving them the same opportunity as other employees to secure permanent positions. This provision is crucial for promoting career growth and stability among temporary workers.

Access to workplace amenities and participation in vocational training programs provided by the user undertaking are also guaranteed for temporary agency workers. These entitlements must be offered under the same conditions as those available to directly hired employees unless there are objective reasons for differentiation.

The regulations also ensure that temporary agency workers are included in calculations for worker representation thresholds. This inclusion guarantees their rights to consultation and representation within the workplace, ensuring their voices are heard and their interests protected.

Temporary agency workers are empowered to file complaints with the Industrial Tribunal for any breaches of these regulations. Employers found in violation may face significant fines, underscoring the importance of compliance and the protection of workers' rights.

Broader Impact and Implications

The introduction of these regulations marks a significant step towards achieving social justice in the workplace. By mandating equal treatment for temporary agency workers, the law addresses systemic inequalities and fosters a fairer working environment. The principle of equal pay for equal work is not just a legal requirement but a cornerstone of social justice, aimed at reducing economic disparities and promoting inclusive growth.

The regulations also take a firm stance against discrimination. They explicitly prohibit any form of direct or indirect pay discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, beliefs, disabilities, age, or sexual orientation. This comprehensive approach ensures that all workers, irrespective of their background or status, are treated with dignity and respect.

In practical terms, compliance with these new regulations will require organisations to review and update their policies. Companies must ensure that their pay scales, benefits, and working conditions for temporary agency workers are aligned with those of permanent staff. Clear communication of these new rights and protections to all employees is essential to foster transparency and equality within the organisation.

Additionally, it is crucial to provide comprehensive training for staff and managers on the new regulations. This training should cover legal requirements, practical implementation, and the importance of upholding these standards to ensure a smooth transition and compliance.

The Temporary Agency Workers Regulations, 2024, represent a progressive step towards a more equitable and just workplace. By embracing these changes, organisations can contribute to a fairer society, ensuring that all workers, regardless of their employment status, receive the respect and opportunities they deserve.

For further information or assistance with compliance, please contact our office. We are dedicated to supporting you through these changes.

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