Hospitality / Unsplash

Employers who do not ensure their staff have the new skills pass will not be penalised, with fines only being introduced if needed, a report from Times of Malta has stated.

This comes just a few days after Government announced that non-EU workers seeking employment in Malta’s tourism and hospitality industry will need to obtain a skills pass from May 2024. While the programme had initially been planned to launch in January, and then March, it has now been postponed to May so that it is refined further and is able to address industry concerns better. Non-EU workers already in the country will have to obtain the skills pass by next year.

The programme will then be rolled out to all EU and Maltese workers in the industry from 2026.

However, the Times of Malta report said that while those workers from outside of the EU who fail to obtain the pass would end up getting their work permits refused, EU and Maltese workers, as well as employers, will not be facing any penalties.

A legal notice that establishes the scheme does not point towards any penalties from Malta and elsewhere in the EU who do not manage to get the pass. Additionally, no penalties have been listed for employers who do not ensure their staff have the pass.

In an interview, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo clarified that fines would only be introduced if needed, adding that one can start speaking about potential fines “further down the line.”

“Let’s start implementing [the skills pass scheme] first and raise the quality. That’s were I want to get to,” he added.

“If we need them [fines], they’ll be there. I’m not saying there won’t be fines. But let’s have a forward-looking industry which looks towards quality and sustainability,” Minister Bartolo continued.

The Minister said that he ultimately does not want the tourism and hospitality industry to abide by the rules because it is “afraid of fines,” but because it “believes in what we [Government] are doing.”

Additionally, he explained that the scheme is being gradually introduced in order to avoid a possible shock to the industry, with him describing it as “the reform of a generation.”

The skills pass was established with the aim of elevating the quality of tourism services offered in Malta. Starting from 8th April, non-EU job seekers can enrol in a mandatory online course that covers English language proficiency, customer care, general hospitality practices, and knowledge of Malta’s tourist offerings. The online course, delivered by AI instructors, will come in at a fee of €450.

Once the online modules are completed, applicants will then need to participate in an online verification interview that is scheduled to commence on 6th May. Passing this interview, costing an extra €125, is mandatory for employment in hotels, bars, restaurants, kitchens, housekeeping, and front office positions.

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