Circular from Office of Prime Minister to curb precarious employment

July 4, 2013

Circular No 12/2013 from the Office of the Prime Minister was issued to curb precarious employment on 1 July 2013 addressed to all Permanent Secretaries, Directors General, Directors and Heads of Public Sector Organisations.

CHANGES TO TENDER DOCUMENTS

At the beginning of this legislature, specific instructions were given to Permanent Secretaries to strive to ensure that any contracts awarded by government departments or public sector organisations do not lead to precarious employment situations. Nonetheless, the process for the award of Government tenders has recently come under scrutiny following the granting of service contracts.

Government is committed to ensure that employment conditions of employees are safeguarded and guaranteed. Therefore it is important to ensure that precarious employment conditions are eliminated. Government has already started a process of dialogue with social partners aimed at seeking a way forward to address precarious conditions in the Maltese labour market.

Notwithstanding, Government needs to set an example on this matter and therefore certain changes to tender conditions are to be implemented as from today by the Department of Contracts and Contracting Authorities.

All tenders that are to be awarded from today onwards will need to ensure that the new conditions which are indicated below are, without exception, to be included in contracts that are to be awarded both by the Department of Contracts as well as those awarded by Government Department or Public Sector Organisations.

The new conditions which will form part of the mandatory conditions of any service contract are:-

1. A guarantee that the services provided will not be subcontracted to third parties;

2. A guarantee that the contractual work will not be carried out by self-employed persons but solely by employees of the tenderer;

3. A guarantee that all the employees of the tenderer, whether providing services to the contracting authority or not, have a written contract of service and are registered with the Employment & Training Corporation. On award of the contract the tenderer shall furnish a list of employees who will be providing services to the contracting authority as well as having copies of the written contracts of service of any of the employees available at any time for inspection;

4. All employees are to be given a detailed payslip containing all relevant details including the amount paid, normal hours worked, overtime hours, hours worked on Sundays and 2public holidays, hours availed of as leave or sick leave, a breakdown of bonuses/allowances as well as deductions made (such as social security contributions and income tax);

5. Employee’s wages/salaries are paid only by direct payment in the employee’s bank account;

6. The tenderer is to guarantee that the relevant bank statements of wage/salaries’ deposit and copies of the detailed payslips are to be made available as and when required by the Director of Industrial & Employment Relations;

7. The contractor shall be obliged to specify the minimum hourly workers’ costs in tenders involving the provision of employees’ services and shall also provide a breakdown of the employee costs in tenders where the tender requires a global sum covering the services to be provided. Guidance from the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations will be sought by the contracting authority for an estimate of the minimum statutory hourly costs for the particular work in the specific sector which is being tendered for.

Apart from the above conditions which the tenderer must abide with, contracting authorities will also be obliged – for any contracts awarded – to keep accurate timesheets of the work carried out by the tenderer’s employees. The tenderer shall be bound to ensure that any employees provided to carry out services at the contracting authority shall be obliged to register their presence at the contracting authority’s premises on these timesheets.

It is to be clarified that where, following the award of any tender, it results to the Director of Industrial and Employment Relations, that a tenderer has not adhered in any way to the conditions of the contract and/or has in any way breached industrial and employment legislation, then the Director shall inform the Director General (Contracts) with such breach.

The Director General (Contracts) having been informed accordingly will terminate such a contract. In addition, the DG (Contracts) may also terminate any other contract/s that such contractor may have with any other Government Department or Public Sector Organisation.

It is to be made clear that any breach of regulations emanating from the Employment and Industrial Relations Act, the Employment and Training Services Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Authority Act may constitute sufficient grounds for the termination of any contract awarded as indicated above.

It is pertinent to underline that the above instructions come into effect immediately for any tender that is to be awarded. In cases where contracts already awarded are up for renewal, no contract can be renewed before the above new conditions are agreed to by the contractor.  Finally, Permanent Secretaries, Directors General, Heads of Department or Heads of Public Sector Organisations will be held responsible for failure to fully implement this directive.

Mario Cutajar – Principal Permanent Secretary