Workers who earn under €20,000 a year, who are employed in one of five sectors and who work the graveyard shift or “atypical” hours will be given a benefit of €150, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has announced.
The measure, announced in the 2022 Budget, will apply for people who work in manufacturing, hotels and restaurants, transport and storage, wholesale and retail, and administrative services.
Eligible workers must work atypical hours – to weekend and night shifts.
It is intended to make these jobs more attractive at a time of serious labour shortages, a problem that has been repeatedly flagged by players in the hospitality industry.
Caruana estimates it will benefit around 40,000 workers, with the bonus equivalent to around 10%, if not more, of their income.
Meanwhile, tax for part-time work will be cut from 15% to 10%, while the cap on overtime income eligible for reduced tax rates will increase.
Malta’s National Employment Policy, recently launched by Caruana, flagged changing attitudes by Maltese people towards shift work, leaving a larger share to foreign workers.
Between 2012 and 2020, the number of employees working on a shift arrangement increased by around 6% annually, from 29,976 in 2012 to 47,710 in 2020.
During this time period, the number of Maltese employees working shifts increased on average by just 3% annually, while the number of non-Maltese working shifts increased by an average of 28% each year, rising from 2,394 in 2012 to more than 13,000 in 2019.
In 2020, the number of Maltese employees working shifts declined by almost 1,000 people, with 1,256 foreign workers making up for this shortfall.
Therefore, the share of Maltese employees working shifts fell from 92% in 2012 to 69.1% in 2020, corroborating industry observations made during focus group sessions that Maltese employees are becoming more discerning when it comes to shift working arrangements.
Will this policy help combat labour shortage problems?