MCESD hosts meeting for social partners on future of work

  • Meeting also tackled social dialogue

The outcome of a series of brainstorming meetings held with representatives from the employees and employers’ sectors were presented during an MCESD (Malta Council for Economic and Social Development) meeting held today.

The meeting focused on the perspectives of the future of work, and social dialogue.

Three main questions were discussed, including how work is changing and the impact of this on the employer-employee relationship, the legislative framework that deals with industrial and employment relations, among other salient issues.

The Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela explained that the rationale of this brainstorming exercise was to address the new labour market necessities that have developed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing to the fore emerging employment patterns.

The most emerging issue was the need of flexible working as a tool to be used appropriately to the needs of the future of work. The entities focused on the importance of mutual trust to strengthen employer-employee relations, with arrangements to benefit both parties.

The new developing trend of non-standard forms of employment was a constant emerging theme. This includes, temporary employment; part-time and on-call work; temporary agency work and other multi-party employment relationships; disguised employment and dependent self-employment. In this regard, flexibility was stressed as a prerequisite.

With reference to legislative considerations, Minister Abela noted that the social partners emphasised the need of updating the employment legislation to address work realities of today and tomorrow. On this aspect, work has already commenced by the Ministry wiethin the Office of the Prime Minister. In particular, the social partners mentioned the issue of remote working. The partners focused on considerations for: appropriate compensation and allowances; adequate IT security to mitigate risk of breaches; onus of liability for injuries during the performance of duties; extension of health and safety risk assessments; and discussion on costs incurred, such as internet, office equipment and utilities.

With regards to non-standard forms of employment, the feedback revolved around affording basic protection of the worker; considerations for minimum wage, social security and sick leave; freedom of association and the rights to collective bargaining. Another topic under discussion was the revision of labour laws to provide enhanced manoeuvreability under force majeure or extreme circumstances.

As for the future of social dialogue, social partners highlighted proposals for the restructuring of MCESD, strengthening of the Employment Relations Board and the pursuit of sectoral committees for further focus.

Participants included the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, the Malta Employers Association, the Malta Chamber for SMEs, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, the Gozo Business Chamber, the General Workers’ Union, Forum Unions Maltin, Union Ħaddiema Magħqudin, Confederation of Malta Trade Unions; and representatives of regulated professions.

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