Employment of Persons with Disability: Employers’ Complaints on New Penalties

The recent Act No. XXII of 2015 which amended the already established “Persons with Disability (Employment) Act” (the Act), has enforced the 2% quota rule. According to this rule, companies employing not less than twenty employees should employ a 2% quota of disabled persons. Should the employers fail to apply the said 2% quota rule, they will be liable for payment of a fine varying between Eur2,400 and Eur10,000.

Fines paid by those employers will be administered by the Employment & Training Corporation (ETC), and used to set up and administer the Lino Spiteri Foundation whose goal is that of improving the inclusion of vulnerable individuals into gainful employment through the empowerment of the individuals themselves.

On the 4th of December 2015, the Malta Employers’ Association (MEA) filed an application for an injunction and request to holt the introduction of new rules setting penalties for employers who fail to comply with the said quota rule.

In this respect, the MEA has claimed that the ETC is wrongly interpreting the above-mentioned Legislation since, as stated by the MEA, the ETC is implementing the same Legislation for the purpose of generating revenue through fines, rather than increasing the employment of persons with disability.

The MEA has also claimed that, since the ETC prevents employers from accessing its register of persons with disability, the same employers could never officially know who of their employees has a disability and who of them is listed in the ETC’s register. The ETC, for its part, has argued that, in terms of Data Protection Act (Chapter 440 of the Laws of Malta), it is not allowed to divulge the names of registered persons with disability.

Moreover, the MEA has noted that, although there is an apparent shortage of registered persons with disability seeking employment, employers continue to be fined for employment quota shortfalls. As stated by the MEA, the civil service itself does not employ the minimum number of persons of disability in terms of law.

The Court has rejected the application made by the MEA. This decision has been welcomed by the ETC which has stated that the measures being taken to strengthen the law on employment of persons with disability would enable these persons to have greater opportunities for a better life.

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