Mother and daughter fined after repeated breaches of employment law

Worker's wage unlawfully withheld

A woman and her daughter were this morning fined €1,000 each after withholding part of a worker's salary. 

Mary Rose Vella, 69, and Charmaine Vella, 40, directors of All Seasons Holidays Ltd, which runs a hotel in Xlendi, were prosecuted after the Department for Industrial and Employment Relations received a complaint about unpaid wages by a former employee.

The wages and other statutory benefits, covering a five-month period between January and June 2016, totalled €8,035.91 of which €3,252.84 remained unpaid.

When testifying in court, Ms Vella had acknowledged that the amount was due but declared that the payment would not be affected unless the former employee made a public apology for harm caused to her family.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud said the accused could have resorted to other legal ways to resolve any disputes with workers but they had no right to withhold payment of wages.

Whatever the worker had done was ‘totally irrelevant’, and once he was in employment, he was entitled to his wages ‘no more, no less’ since this was a right safeguarded by law.

The court observed that the accused had been handed some 19 other court sentences earlier on. Mother and daughter had been given several chances by this court to comply with employment legislation.

The court, therefore, declared the accused guilty and condemned them to the payment of a €1,000 fine each, whilst ordering them to settle the wages owed within three months.

The court also called upon the Department of Employment Relations to inform the public about reports regarding employers who failed to pay their workers so that prospective employees may be forewarned. Workers, he said, should not be reduced to a ‘mere mechanical instrument’ exploited by those who engaged them.