The maternity leave fund has been established. The Government said that following agreement with the stakeholders – the unions, employers and civil society – the fund was established for the private sector leading to a change in the maternity leave payment system aimed at addressing the employers’ difficulty to employ women which would entail him to pay for this leave.
With the introduction of the maternity fund, every employer in the private sector will now pay a minimal contribution for every employee he employs, irrespective if its a male or a female. The Government stressed that the workers involved will not pay for this system.
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said during a press conference that the contribution that an employer will pay for every employee will be regulated under the Social Security Act. The contribution will be put into a special fund, called the maternity leave fund.
“As the burden on the private sector will now be divided on every employer, those who employ a male, a female or a mother, will collect 30 cents a week on every €100 he earns in salary and forward them to the fund, that is in a trust fund. When somebody goes out on maternity leave, the employer will submit the salary for that period and he will be fully refunded. This will allow him to temporarily employ another person when the worker concerned is on maternity leave”, the minister said.
The maternity leave fund board is composed of three members representing employers and a member representing the unions. The board will foresee that every employer pays the due contribution and, from time to time, will formulate the contribution rate that currently is 30 cents for every €100.
Social Dialogue Minister Helena Dalli said the maternity leave fund will help to address the discrimination that might have previously occurred when an employer is about to employ and chooses between a male or female workers. “It is important that births continue, but society has to recognise this and prevent barriers against women who, considering their age, can become pregnant”, the Minister pointed out.
The Government made it clear that the fund will be used to sustain the system for employees in the private sector only. Therefore the Government said it will continue to cover all the payments due for female employees in the public sector who apply for maternity leave.