For a number of organisations (user undertakings) using agency staff can be ideal, especially when there is a need for emergency temporary cover. It can cost more than employing a temporary staff member directly, but a big benefit is that all of the administration is handled by the agency.

See also: Jobs in Malta

In October 2008, the EU adopted Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on temporary agency work (Agency Workers Directive), which must be implemented by member states by 5 December 2011. The Directive aims to protect temporary agency workers and to improve the quality of temporary agency work. Among other things, the Directive contains a principle of equal treatment, which means that temporary agency workers are guaranteed the same basic working and employment conditions as comparable staff employed directly by the user undertaking (Article 5(1)). In Malta Legal Notice 461 of 2010 implements this Directive and these Regulations shall come into force on 5 December 2011.

The Regulations define "temporary agency worker" as a “worker who has entered into a contract of employment or an employment relationship with a temporary work agency and who is assigned, whether on a regular or on an irregular basis, to a user undertaking to work temporarily under its supervision and direction.”

The Maltese Regulations stipulate that the basic working conditions of temporary agency workers shall be at least that that they would be eligible for had they been recruited directly by that undertaking if they had to occupy the same job. The term “basic working conditions” means such conditions as limitedly relate to the following: Pay, the duration of working time, overtime, rest breaks, rest periods, night work, annual leave, public holidays, the protection of pregnant women, women who have just given birth or who are breastfeeding, the protection of children and young people and equal treatment for men and women and any action to combat any discrimination based on sex, race, or ethnic origin, religion, beliefs, disabilities, age or sexual orientation.

If an organisation uses a temporary agency worker, the organisation must give access to the amenities or collective facilities to the temporary agency worker, in particular any canteen, child care facilities and transport services under the same conditions as workers who have been employed directly unless the difference in treatment is justified by objective reasons. Furthermore the temporary agency worker shall be entitled to participate in vocational training programmes provided by or on behalf of the organisation unless such difference in treatment is justified by objective reasons.

A guest post by Dr. Roselyn Borg Knight,

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