A Maternity Leave Trust Fund to which employers have to make contributions started operating on July 6.

Employers will contribute the equivalent of 0.3 per cent of the basic pay for every employee, irrespective of gender, to build up a fund from which the 14-week maternity leave will be paid.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna and Helena Dalli, the minister responsible for employment relations, said the fund - announced in the Budget - was meant to end discrimination where employers engaged men instead of women because they did not wish to pay maternity leave. Now all employers would contribute to the fund, independently of the gender of their employees.

Prof Scicluna said the government would continue to pay the additional four weeks maternity leave at a flat rate (no change to current system). 

The fund will be supervised by a board composed of three employers and one trade union representative together with the permanent secretaries in the Ministries of Finance and Employment Relations.

Helena Dalli, the minister responsible for employment relations, said that although gender discrimination in employment was illegal, many employers preferred to employ men in order not to have to pay women 14 weeks maternity. This new system would ensure there was no difference  because the employer would still have to pay the contribution independently of whether his employees were men or women.  

Prof Scicluna said this measure was another in a string of measures targeted to encourage more female participation in the workforce.

More details at http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150604/business-news/Maternity-fund-firms-to-pay-0-3-of-basic-wages.570986

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