In a recent budgetary measure, the Government of Malta has decided to enforce a legislation that requires companies of over 20 employees to create inclusive employment of 2% (full time equivalent) of their workforce from persons with a disability. Whilst this law has been in force for almost 40 years, Malta is still one of the lowest ranking countries in the EU when it comes to the employment of vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities. Indeed, our uptake in gainful employment is around 5% of the potential number of people represented in this demographic. By comparison, some other European countries are approaching 40%.
Indeed, the National Employment Policy, which Government published in May 2014 had already promised:
1 New fiscal incentives to attract employers to provide open market jobs for persons with disability.
2Preferential treatment through public procurement regulations aimed at positively discriminating in favour of social cooperatives employing vulnerable persons.
3 Employment supported by job coaches.
4 Various sheltered workshops.
As of the 1st of January 2015, employers within this size of human resource need to move towards these quotas by either employing directly or contributing €2,400 per individual per annum, up to a maximum of €10,000 per annum to a fund that will directly train and employ persons with disabilities, mental health problems, and other vulnerable persons, through the Lino Spiteri Foundation. The Lino Spiteri Fund has been set up under the direct budget of the ETC and solely to be utilised to further the employment of disadvantaged individuals.
An employer who employs a disabled person will be exempt from paying the Employer’s share of social security contributions for such employee and can benefit for up to €125 per person per week in full time employment for up to 3 years (with a requirement to sustain employment for a further 12 months) through A2E Schemes funded by the ETC.
Employers are being encouraged to employ directly, and support their employees through training and specialist support also provided by the Foundation. In a nutshell, if the Employers are open to employment, the LSF aims to provide the support to ensure that a) the individuals fit within the employers’ needs and b) are supported until such time that they are fully included into the workforce.
The NGO Council of the LSF will be working towards specialist training and preparation of the various groups represented by the Foundation, to ensure that the potential employees are skilled and prepared for work, to be reliable and productive members of a team.
Employers can also utilise funding opportunities that refund National Insurance, incentivise employment as well as fund salaries for short periods of ‘acclimatisation’ including Job Reach programmes and Supported Employment programmes. NGOs will also be providing training to individuals that directly reflects the job openings becoming available by potential employers.