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09 December 2020
Maltese law sets out various obligations for employers regarding disability within employment. The employment of persons with disabilities is currently regulated by the Persons with Disability Employment Act (Chapter 210 of the Laws of Malta) and the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act (Chapter 413 of the Laws of Malta), according to which employers are, among other things, prevented from discriminating against persons with disabilities.
In order to inform EU citizens of their right to equal treatment, in May 2019 the European Commission launched the #EUvsDiscrimination campaign, part of which focused on the right to reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.
EU employers have a statutory obligation to provide reasonable accommodation – an obligation also imposed under Maltese law.
In summary, employers must take appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to:
Persons with disabilities must also be granted access to participate in and advance in employment and this extends to all work-related activities covered by EU law – from the job application process through to termination.
The European Commission has published a guide detailing what reasonable accommodation is and providing various examples of such accommodation by the public and private sector and civil society.
The obligation to provide 'reasonable accommodation' is qualified to such extent that the measures would not impose a disproportionate burden on employers. The law refers to a 'test of reasonableness' and factors with which this assessment is to be carried out.
The term 'disability' has a specific definition in law – namely, a disability:
Failure to offer reasonable accommodation without justification is deemed to be discrimination for the purposes of the law.
The Maltese Industrial Tribunal has awarded compensation to employees who were found to have been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against by their employer, which had failed to offer reasonable accommodation.
Maltese law also sets a quota requiring employers to employ persons with disabilities.
The rules on equal treatment are not absolute, in that there may be exceptions permitted by law. The law also encourages 'positive action' to safeguard and promote the integration of disabled persons into the working environment.
Non-compliance may give rise to civil or criminal liability.
For further information on this topic please contact Paul Gonzi or Mattea Pullicino at Fenech & Fenech Advocates by telephone (+356 2124 1232) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Fenech & Fenech website can be accessed at www.fenechlaw.com.
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