Foreign workers in Malta who have lost their jobs have ten working days to find new employment or face being booted out of the country, even if they’re just days outside the timeframe.
Well-informed sources detailed how many foreign non-EU workers, who have lived and paid taxes in Malta for years, are being told to leave the country, regardless if they’ve been able to find a new job.
In one case, a worker has been told to return to their country, because of a slight discrepancy in their termination letter, even though they’ve already found a new job.
“It is ridiculous and unfair to these people that have been working here for years and are now just refusing them,” sources told Lovin Malta.
At present, Identity Malta has employed a strict procedure when dealing with non-EU workers. Beyond the ten working days limit, non-EU workers are required to submit new forms detailing their new employment every time they find a new job.
They also need a comprehensive health insurance policy, showing all aspects being covered, which supports the applicant in the eventuality of requiring any type of medical assistance or hospitalisation during the whole period of stay in Malta.
This includes undergoing medical tests and taking several vaccines, such as the measles vaccine and the polio vaccine. However, Malta’s COVID-19 vaccination program has made things far more difficult, with health clinics advising them to wait at least 7 days between taking the COVID-19 vaccine and any other jab they are required to take.
The policy is not new, however, sources described a growing sense of frustration of seeing many good workers leave the island because of the timeframe.
It has created a bureaucratic nightmare for non-EU workers, who immediately face the prospect of deportation if they are fired from their job.
Identity Malta’s strongman approach is not stopping these workers from finding employment, it is simply forcing them to break the law and work without a permit, opening them up to a world of abuse.
The issue does not just affect the workers, with local businesses depending heavily on non-EU workers to keep their industries going.
“I will not survive if I don’t have foreign workers. We offer them a good salary because they’re great employees. Now, it’s just harder and more stressful for us to find good workers,” one business owner said.
Restaurateurs have already issued a warning of severe staff shortages because several foreign workers have left Malta since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.
The shortage could have devastating implications on the Maltese economy, which needs all the help it can get after being greylisted.
In January 2021, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana kicked off the process to introduce a new employment policy, asking stakeholders whether a quota on the number of foreign workers should be applied.
Caruana was the mastermind in 2014 of the government’s employment policy, which saw a major influx of foreign workers in the country and a significant number of Maltese workers returning to the workforce.
It remains to be seen what changes will be introduced in the new policy. The current situation does not inspire much confidence.
What do you think of the issue?