Malta Work Culture

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Work Culture

To succeed in business in Malta, it is vital for both employers and employees to have a strong understanding of the business culture.

As a global PEO (Professional Employment Organization) it is our goal to be familiar and updated with the business culture in the country we work with and in. By sharing our knowledge about Maltese work culture, we want to support your global expansion plans. Therefore, we will address all aspects of the work culture in Malta to start your expansion well-informed.

Malta has a dynamic, progressive, ‘go ahead’ economy – qualities recognized by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF rates the Maltese economy as one of the most vibrant in the Eurozone, which Malta joined in 2008, four years after becoming a member of the European Union (EU). Unemployment was among the lowest in the EU at 3.6% in 2021 – another of the factors encouraging expansion from international companies.

Being part of the EU, gives tariff-free access to the world’s third largest economy with nearly 500 million consumers. A boon for any business.

The island of Malta has many attractions apart from its commercial potential for international businesses. A relaxed lifestyle, warm and sunny weather cooled by the Mediterranean, plus history and culture are ‘bonuses’ that companies can offer when recruiting and hiring talent.

Despite being the smallest economy in the Eurozone, Malta has among the most skilled, flexible, multi-lingual, and cost-effective workforces. It is time to ‘get down to business’ so here are a few tips on taking the right steps … and avoiding the pitfalls!

  • Language: Maltese and English are both official languages, but English tends to dominate in the business sector
  • Business Environment: The Maltese display a blend of teamwork, initiative and personal responsibility with individual roles clearly defined. Atmosphere tends to be relaxed, with communication polite but direct.
  • Negotiations: Discussions, including disagreements, are conducted diplomatically and politely. Do not interrupt while your counterpart is talking – rude! Negotiations tend to be lengthy; agreement can take a while.
  • Punctuality: Be on time to create a good impression. Plan meetings well ahead and confirm two or three days in advance. Phone ahead if delayed.
  • Greetings: Handshakes are normal at start and end of meetings. Address counterparts as ‘Mr./Mrs./Ms.’ then surname at first meeting and exchange business cards; engaging in ‘small talk’ is normal.
  • Dress Code: Tends to be formal for both men and women, with business suits the norm, but jackets come off in summer.
  • Gift-giving: Something modest and symbolic will be appreciated, but presents are not essential.

Maltese Minimum Wage

In January 2021 the minimum was increased to €784.08 (US$906) per month or €9,416 (US$10,876) per year, based on 12 monthly payments for full-time workers aged 18 and over and was fixed until December 2021.

Wage Regulation Orders (WROs) applying to different sectors take precedence over national minimum rates.

The 2017 National Agreement on the Minimum Wage decreed that after one year with the same employer, employees earning minimum wage receive a weekly increase of €3 (US$3.47) for the second year. The weekly increase becomes €6 (US$6.93) after more than three years with the same employer. 

The minimum wages of part-time employees are calculated pro rata with the hourly rate of full-time employees.

Probation Periods in Malta

Probationary or trial periods allow for employers and employees to assess the position and either can terminate during the trial period without giving any reason for doing so. However, when the probationary period has been running for longer than one month, one week’s notice should be given.

The length of the probation is decided at the beginning of the contract and is paid at the agreed salary which cannot be lower than the minimum wage or any collective bargaining agreement to which the employer is committed. The same applies to the maximum duration of the trial period which is six months.

However, a shorter period can be agreed and written into the contract. 

For white-collar managerial staff whose salary is twice the national minimum wage, the period can be extended to 12 months.

Working Hours in Malta

In the private sector, 40 hours a week between the hours of 8am till 5pm is considered ‘normal working hours’ and does not include overtime. For flexibility and in certain conditions, this can be extended to a maximum 48 hours over a 17-week period and in some sectors averaged over one year. Anything over and above this would require written permission from the employee.

During their working day, employees are entitled to at least one 15 minutes’ break after six hours and a minimum uninterrupted rest period of 11 hours between workdays. Employees must have 24 hours’ rest every seven days or 48 consecutive hours in 14 days or two 24-hour periods over a two-week period.

Overtime in Malta

Any hours above the agreed ‘normal working hours’ is defined as overtime, which should be included in the employment contract along with the hourly rate. There is no maximum hours which can be worked as long as it does not exceed the weekly 48 hours allowed over a four-week period. Employees cannot be compelled to work more than 48 hours without their written consent.

The overtime rates of pay are regulated by the Works Council through Wage Regulation Orders (WRO) by sector. For those not covered by a WRO, the rates paid are 1.5 times their normal hourly rate.

Regardless of any law, collective bargaining agreements or employment contracts, even if there is a written consent, the Protection of Maternity (Employment) Regulations prohibits overtime during pregnancy and for the first 12 months of the birth or adoption of a child.