Malta: Make It Your Business To Fight The Flu

The flu season is in full swing. Germs are having a field day so that cold and flu medication is flying off pharmacies' counters.

Jokes about the notable difference between a man cold and its female counterpart bring a smile to raw mornings. Yet employees reporting sick is no joke. It's not just the problems of being short-staffed since HR departments also need to adjust to the consequences of the new procedures following changes to sick leave procedures that essentially cut down on medical certification for very short periods of illness.

Sick Leave Entitlement in Malta varies from industry to industry and may depend on duration of employment. Even though collective agreements may stipulate employer specific rules and regulations, the parameters remain an amalgamation of the Employment and Industrial Act (Cap. 452), the Social Security Act (Cap. 318) as amended by ACT XVI of 2017 together with the Professional Offices Wages Council Wage Regulation Order (S.L.452.39). As a result, full-time employees are entitled to 20 days of sick leave on a full time basis without any threat to job security. In contrast, part-timers are entitled to a pro-rata number of days which are also paid in full plus and carry no risk of job loss.

Up to 2017, all employees were obliged to produce and submit a blue certificate (compiled and signed by a doctor) to the Social Security Department for the entire period of illness. This system enabled the government to cover part of the employees' wage during sick leave once the sick period extended to the fourth day and beyond as long as social security contributions had been paid. The relevant copy/copies of the blue certificate would be passed on to the employer for internal records.

Budgetary announcements in 2017 have relaxed this system resulting in changes since January 2018. While the rules for more than three days of sick leave still stand, sick leave for three days or less no longer needs to be certified by a medical doctor. A note stating the nature of illness and return-to-work-date suffices though the employee is still bound to notify his/her absence from work.  Nevertheless, an employer may still ask for a doctor's certificate which renders the legal amendments a contradiction in terms.

While the new system cuts down on red tape at Social Security offices and gains political mileage, it has created a grey area in the workplace specifically where occupational medicine is concerned since this relates to both the treatment and prevention of illness and/or injury sustained at work. The annual flu epidemic demands special attention for the simple reason that the risk of contagion is very high. Schools in Malta must follow strict guidelines as to how to prevent spreading the virus together with how to deal with students who turn up sick in the morning, or come down with flu symptoms during the school day. Targeting schools is necessary because they are notorious breeding grounds for viral transmissions.

Offices too are highly encouraged to follow the same guidelines even where the staff complement is small. During the flu season numbers are irrelevant for it only takes one member of staff to sneeze or cough inappropriately or to make tactile contact with an infected surface for the virus to wreak havoc. Moreover, insufficient hand hygiene particularly if one sneezes/coughs in one's hands and AC units working at full blast further put the respiratory virus into free fall. Targeting public transport should also be a priority because buses are another fertile ground for viral transmissions.

What is actually happening vis a vis medical certification?

While blue medical certificates are still required for illness lasting more than three days, to date employers in Malta are free to opt for (or out of) hiring the services of a company doctor which translates into a matter of luck whether members of staff are faced with a regulated company policy. Unfortunately, some companies do not maintain a level playing field because the company doctor's service is not utilised across the board. HR may have its valid reasons to act in this way, but three is no denying that workers feel aggrieved and discriminated against when this happens. More so if their sick leave is genuine.

Meanwhile, a number of doctors are irritated because they feel that they are being used as sergeant majors to cut down on abuse. The irony is that the new system ups such exploitation because no medical certificate is required for up to three days of illness. Admittedly, HR should be responsible for obvious patterns of abuse plus today's readily available software axes all excuses to record and monitor absenteeism from the workplace. It is therefore no surprise that the Malta College of Family Doctors has been lobbying for a clearer legal framework on the procedures to adopt whenever employees report sick.

While loss of productivity on account of the flu epidemic hogs the January and February headlines, presenteeism (people reporting to work when sick) is only beginning to be spotlighted. Addiction to work, escapism from personal problems, striving to impress, bad time-management and underperformance are the main reasons driving this phenomenon which can lead to poor health and exhaustion apart from productivity loss. Presenteeism during the winter months only adds to the flu epidemic.  Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) are gaining ground to put a stop to employees reporting sick.

What are the solutions?


  • Incorporate hygiene directives to prevent and deal with the flu epidemic in current legislation.
  • Make quarterly unannounced spot checks on work places by competent government health officials obligatory.


  • Ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
  • Ensure that company policy (abiding by in vigore Maltese laws) is applicable to all staff members.
  • Monitor and act upon suspicious sick leave patterns to curtail abuse.
  • Ensure hygiene directives re preventing transmission of the flu virus are adhered to.
  • Promote common sense and courtesy especially as regards presenteeism.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions