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WH-The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed remote working arrangements for employees onto businesses which may not have ever considered such arrangements before COVID-19 forced their hand. Whereas before remote working was a negotiable option which the employer and employee would discuss and negotiate, and which the employee could refuse, due to the ‘new normal’ brought on by COVID-19, the employer was encouraged, on the advice of the national Health Authorities, to make teleworking arrangements for employees, in the interests of their and the nation’s health generally.

Remote working has proven its many benefits both for the employer and the employee. However, despite having employees working outside the office premises there are certain employer duties which should nonetheless and at all times be adhered to.

The health and safety of employees is one of the many responsibilities of an employer. In the workplace, employers are required by law to protect the wellbeing of their employees. This principle is enshrined in the Occupational Health and Safety Authority Act (Cap 424 of the Laws of Malta), where the term ‘workplace’ is defined as any premises, place, facility, vessel or other thing or location, whether public or private, where work is carried out or to which the worker has access in the course of his employment...’. Therefore, the duty of care must always be exercised irrespective of whether the employee is working remotely or not.

Consequently, the General Provisions for Health and Safety at Work Places Regulations (S.L 424.18) impose on every employer the duty to carry out a suitable, sufficient and systematic assessment of all the occupational health and safety hazards which may be present at the place of work and the resultant risks involved concerning all aspects of the work activity. When carrying out such assessments, the employer is required to take into consideration changes to the work activities being carried out and to the workplace and shall take appropriate action.

Even though it may be difficult for employers to carry out traditional health and safety risk assessments at a worker’s home in the current context, the ‘Employer’s Guide on Working from Home in Response to the Outbreak of COVID-19' published by the International Labour Organization advises the employer to check that:

  • The work asked to be performed is one that can be safely performed from home;
  • Adjustments are made to the tasks, if needed, to ensure that they are safely

A-landlord-and-tenants-guide-to-Maltese-rules-on-residential-leasesThe Private Residential Leases Act (Cap. 604 of the Laws of Malta) (“Act”) has been drafted in a manner that provides for a stronger bias in favour of tenants over landlords. This is what the legislator set out to do in an attempt to intervene in what it perceived as a rental market spiraling out of control, with rental prices sky-rocketing over a relatively short period of time. Intervening in market dynamics is always a complex matter, and no system that does so is perfect. The objective of this guide is not to comment on the validity or otherwise of the Act, but to provide a guide which is useful to landlords and tenants seeking to understand and navigate Malta’s private residential rent laws. There are several areas still unclear or left subject to one’s interpretation, which is why it is advisable both for landlords and tenants to seek advice prior to entering into rental agreements, particularly for long term leases, or when leasing to sub-lease, or otherwise by way of investment.

The Act, which came into force on 1 January 2020 (“Applicable Date”), is applicable to private residential leases entered into or renewed after the Applicable Date. It is not applicable to leases granted after 1 June 1995 which are still in force on 1 January 2020. These will continue to be regulated by the Civil Code (Cap. 16 of the Laws of Malta), with the exception of certain cases, as specified in Article 5 of Act – which provides that private residential leases which were entered into after 1 June 1995, but before the Applicable Date and which would still be in force on or after 1 January 2021, whether in their original or renewed term shall also be governed by the Act.

Non-Applicability of the Act

The Act is not applicable to (i) tenements belonging to the Government of Malta; (ii) tenements let to any tourist, exclusively for tourism purposes – provided that although a property is registered as holiday furnished premises, the Act will apply and govern instances where the tenant is not actually a tourist as defined in the Act; (iii) tenements which are not let for a primary residential purpose; (iv) tenements let before 1 June 1995; and (v) the letting of urban tenements where contracts of emphyteusis or sub-emphyteusis have been or are about to be converted into leases by virtue of law.

Registration of Private Residential Lease Contracts

The provisions of the Act stipulate that all private residential lease contracts (“PRL”) entered after the Applicable Date

WH-In virtue of L.N. 291 of 2020, the “Real Estate Agents, Property Brokers and Property Consultants Act, 2020” (“Act”) has come into force. The Act stipulates that persons carrying out the activity of a (i) property broker; or (ii) real estate agent; or (iii) engaged as a branch manager; or (iv) property consultant, must obtain a licence in order to carry on doing so after the 31/12/2021.

The Act defines such terms as follows:

  • ‘property broker’ means “any natural person who has a licence to act as an intermediary in the process of negotiating and arranging transactions involving the acquiring or disposing or leasing of land in terms of this Act and does not employ and, or engages (whether under a contract of service or a contract for services) any branch managers and, or any property consultants”;
  • ‘real estate agent’ means “any natural person who has a licence to act as an intermediary in the process of negotiating and arranging transactions involving the acquiring or disposing or leasing of land and employs and, or engages (whether under a contract of service or a contract for services) one or more branch managers and, or one or more property consultants”;
  • ‘branch manager’ means “any natural person who is a holder of a licence and is employed or engaged to supervise any property consultant”;
  • ‘property consultant’ means “any natural person who has a licence to act as an intermediary in the process of negotiating and arranging transactions involving the acquiring or disposing or leasing of land in terms of this Act and is employed or engaged (whether under a contract of service or a contract for services) by an estate agent and who acts under the directions of the same or those of a branch manager”.

The Act defines the activity of a property broker or real estate agent as being “the acting as an intermediary in the process of negotiating and arranging transactions which involve the acquiring or disposing or leasing of land, including when such activity is carried out through the engagement or the employment of a branch manager or a property consultant or both”. The Act requires the formation of a partnership, where a real estate agent intends to carry out his activity with another person.

An exception to the general rule of requiring a licence is that such is not required where a person carries out such activity on an occasional basis and where such does not advertise his services, nor does he employ or engage anyone to assist him with such

Copia-di-Copia-di-Indennita-per-autonomi-collaboratori-e-dipendentiLo SMART WORKING è specificatamente normato per quanto attiene al rapporto fra dipendente e datore di lavoro e i recenti interventi normativi hanno consentito di estendere tale forma di lavoro ad un rilevante numero di soggetti senza particolari impegni burocratici, però non esonera il datore di lavoro in merito al fornire puntuali istruzioni e regole su come svolgere l’attività lavorativa, su come predisporre l’ambiente di lavoro e su come garantire l’adeguata sicurezza, sia per il Collaboratore, sia per l’azienda.

WHPARTNERS-ARTICLE

On 8 June 2020 the Maltese Government announced an economic recovery package aimed at boosting the economy impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key measures include: 

1.Update of Covid Wage Supplement which will remain in force till September 2020;

2. Extension of tax deferral scheme;

3. Reduction in property tax and stamp duty on new contracts and developments;

4. Assistance with payments of rent and electricity bills for businesses;

5. Cash conversion of tax credits under the Micro-invest scheme;

6. Refund on port charges and container discharge fees.

Download the pdf for further information.

 

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