There were 1,695 workplaces found to be irregularly employing migrant workers from outside the European Union in 2023.

Given that there were an estimated 20,000 active employers in Malta (as of 2022), that means that more than one in every 12 employers (8.5 per cent) was caught employing people illegally.

The stark figure was given by Minister for the Interior, Security and Work Byron Camilleri in response to a parliamentary question posed by Opposition MP and Shadow Minister for Equality, Civil Liberty, Minority Rights and Children Policy Graziella Attard Previ.

Asked about the measures taken to protect non-EU migrants working in Malta, who may be particularly vulnerable to exploitation since their visa is tied to their employer, Minister Camilleri confirmed that each one is given an information booklet outlining their rights and responsibilities.

“Identità also conducts inspections on a number of workplaces, including construction sites and various establishments, to ensure that workers are not being exploited,” he said.

“When abuse is found, the persons involved are given guidance and assistance to ensure that their presence is Malta is legal.”

A white paper presented to Government last year detailed various instances of abusive conditions suffered by foreign workers in Malta, whose permit to live and work in the country is tied to their employer and who are only given 10 days to find alternative employment if they are no longer employed for any reason.

That tight timeframe makes it very difficult for foreign workers to stand up for themselves or seek other jobs.

Other workers are made to sleep on construction sites, only to then have the rent deducted from their wages.

The Government has promised a major update to the rules surrounding temping agencies, a number of which were singled out for luring non-EU workers to Malta with the promise of a good job, only for them to find that the reality is quite different.

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