Minister Carmelo Abela stressed how the government is committed to giving more rights to workers that tangibly affects the balance between progress in professional life and aspirations in private life.
Legal Notice (263 of 2020) amending the National Standard Order on Medically Assisted Reproductive Leave Order, better known as the IVF process, enters into force on the 26th of June 2020, under the Employment and Industrial Relations Act. This was announced by the Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela, where he explained how, through these amendments, prospective parents and single people who are employed, and who submit to the process of medically assisted procreation, will be entitled to 60 hours of paid leave from their employer, per cycle, up to a maximum of three IVF processes.
Minister Abela announced that, similarly, where one of the prospective parents is an oocyte donor (oocyte – a woman’s germ cell that can develop into an egg, which can then be fertilized) and with the other prospective parent being the recipient, if employed, these prospective parents will be entitled to 60 hours of full paid leave from their respective employers. He said that, in addition to all this, through these amendments, even the oocyte donor who will not be a prospective parent will be entitled to 60 hours of paid leave from the principal.
He said that, in practice, you can have a wide range of individuals or couples who can apply to do the medically assisted procreation process. Therefore, through these amendments, these individuals or couples will now be eligible for this paid leave. In this context, the Minister responsible for working conditions mentioned how these amendments also take into account the fact that a person’s gender identity may be different from his or her characteristics. For instance, a person may have an identity card stating that his or her gender is that of a “man”, however that person’s physical sexual characteristics are that of a woman, or vice versa.
Minister Abela noted how these amendments were made after consultation with the Employment Relations Board, as well as officials of the Embryo Protection Authority, and of the Human Rights and Integration Directorate.
In the words of Minister Carmelo Abela, “This government is committed, amongst many others, to two things: ensuring equality between all citizens, and improving working conditions. We also believe that we should be supportive of all families, in their diversity, and also of individuals who are willing to give their children the opportunity to grow up in the love and affection they deserve. Whoever wants to have a family with children, we as a government have always been willing to help – and we will always continue to be there to help, not to hinder.”
He recalled how in its first legislature, this government introduced the free IVF service and in the 2017 electoral manifesto promised that this service would be further expanded even through improvements in the law, to better reflect the advances made in technology, and thus more couples can benefit from this opportunity. In fact, that election promise was fulfilled and in October 2018 new amendments to the IVF law were put in place that expanded the services provided in our country and gave more individuals and couples a chance to become parents.
Minister Abela explained that this was not enough, as those who are undergoing this procedure will also have a lot of time when they will not be able to go to work due to tests, procedures, or rest. That is why, in May 2017, the Employment and Industrial Relations Act (EIRA) was amended by means of a National Standard Order through which it began to grant 100 hours of paid leave to those couples who intended to undergo the medically assisted procreation (IVF) process. This in both the public and private sectors. Over time, there has been a need to update and amend this National Standard Order, and the government has worked on it and this Legal Notice will come into force today, by which every individual who undergoes this process, is entitled to 60 hours of paid leave, up to a maximum of three times.
Towards the end of his speech, Minister Abela stressed that this government is committed to further improving working conditions in their wide range. In this regard, he said that, from the 30th of July, another Legal Notice (262 of 2020) will also enter into force, which will bring into force amendments being made to the regulations on employees posted in Malta. With this Legal Notice, Malta is transposing Directive 2018/957/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services.