On March 18, 2020, the Prime Minister of Malta, Finance Minister Scicluna and Economy Minister Schembri announced certain economic measures to support Maltese businesses in an attempt to partially mitigate the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Salary and wage support for Maltese employers
A significant part of the newly announced measures is intended to somewhat ease the burden faced by employers whose employees are obliged to adhere to mandatory quarantine orders or where their business has been subject to direct government measures (such as the closing of restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas, casinos and betting shops).
More details of the measures are yet to be provided. The forms of assistance which will be available to employers in these situations for the time being are the following:
- A financial allocation to employers of €350 for each employee who has been required to take quarantine leave, in line with new regulations;
- Financial compensation in respect of salaries payable by business which were directly affected by governmental closure orders, subject to an €800 per month, for businesses and self-employed persons which were most affected by the Government's order of suspension of operations to protect public health and safety. Where the affected business is a self-employed person, this assistance is increased to cover wage expenses payable in respect of three days per week;
- Additional compensation for self-employed persons who have recorded a decrease of at least 25% in their operational sales, in respect of losses incurred on one day per week. Where the business engages employees, the aid available is increased to the losses incurred on two days per week, capped at €800.
Financial support for all businesses
The assistance granted will also include deferrals on all tax payments (covering provisional tax, employee taxes, maternity fund payments, and social security contributions and value added tax) due for March and April 2020, to all those businesses who have been adversely impacted by the spread of the pandemic, and who have complied with tax obligations falling due by 31 December 2019.
Financial assistance for families and unemployed persons
This assistance comprises of:
- Additional two month's paid leave capped at €800 per month to parents who are not able to perform their roles via teleworking arrangements and who have had to stay at home as a result of closure of schools;
- A temporary employment benefit of €800 per month, with effect from 9 March 2020, to those employees becoming newly unemployed due to redundancy measures;
- An additional allowance of €800 per month to persons with disability who cannot perform their employment via teleworking arrangement and who are advised to stay at home due to their vulnerability to adverse health complications;
- Rent subsidies for persons becoming newly unemployed as of March 2020 and who are currently paying rent. Any individuals who were previously unemployed and receiving a rent subsidy will also see an increase in their rental subsidy.
Support to Jobsplus agency and employment of third country nationals
Jobsplus has established a new office specifically to support Maltese, EU and third country nationals finding an alternative engagement following redundancy, as well as assisting employers seeking to recruit new employees.
In a bid to encourage re-employment of Maltese and EU nationals, any employer terminating the employment of EU and Maltese nationals will be prohibited from subsequently engaging third country nationals.
It has also been announced that Identity Malta will not be accepting any new single permit applications for third country nationals during the continuance of these measures, with the exception of applications for persons in the healthcare professions and for other highly-skilled workers.
More information on the measures discussed here is expected to be published on the Government's legal justice portal later this week.
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.