Yes Minister, No Minister

During the 2021 Budget speech, as the finance minister heartily expounded that Maltese workers could very well expect another day of vacation leave, it can safely be said that a significant portion of viewers felt elated to say the least, knowing that 2021 will now bestow a minimum of 28 vacation days.

But detrimental revelations ensued upon the DIER having updated its webpage on Vacation Leave, clearly enunciating that the vacation leave entitlement for 2021 will remain at the same 27 days’ entitlement as in 2020. Why is this?

The minimum vacation leave entitlement stands at 24 days at law. A number of years ago, the Government had promised to compensate Maltese workers with an extra day of leave, over and above the minimum 24 days, in view of public holidays which fall on a weekend. The increase in vacation leave days which we have had over the past years was done gradually to avoid employers being overwhelmed with a significant rise in mandatory vacation days at once.

In 2021, three public holidays will fall on a weekend – same as in 2020. Therefore, only 3 extra vacation days will be given, leaving employees with the same 27-day entitlement they had this year. But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel – there will be 4 such public holidays in 2022, so employees will then happily enjoy 28 days of leave, only to be disappointed with a clawback to 26 days of leave in 2023, wherein only 2 public holidays will fall on a weekend.
We hate to be the bearer of such news, but it is best to be sure that we have a good grasp of the facts whilst simultaneously making sure that our contracts of employment provide the correct version of reality. We also suggest that contracts are drafted to reflect the law without any detail, to avoid annual changes, addenda and unnecessary paperwork.