Posted Friday, June 15, 2018
Trial periods for new employees are subject to the law

The Magistrates’ Court found an employer guilty of offences found in the Employment and Industrial Relations Act (Chapter 452 of the Law of Malta), after the employer failed to pay all monies due on the pretence that the employees were engaged on a trial basis. This was held in a judgment delivered on 6 June 2018 by Magistrate Dr Donatella Frendo Dimech in the Police -v- Sabri Abdelazziz Khalifa.

The Police had accused Khalifa, an owner of a business, with failing to pay the wages, overtime, vacation leave and notice period of his former employee Engin Turk.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, analysed the evidence the prosecution brought before her, namely the injured party, Turk. He explained that was employed by the accused to work in a Kebab shop, as a manager. He was employed a few days before the take-away had in fact opened and assisted in preparations for the opening. He had drawn the accused’s attention that only three were employed at the take-away and this was not sufficient. In the first two days of his employment he worked 17 hours, since he worked both as a manager as well as the chef in the kitchen. He noticed that Khalifa was employing people and after a few days, instructed him to dismiss them. Turk was instructed to purchase supplies with a VAT receipt. Turk was disappointed on how things turned out and wanted to resign. He explained to the court that promises were not kept. When he complained he was dismissed and was paid €900 for two weeks’ work and the owner did not want to pay overtime, wages for working on Sundays and public holidays, since Turk was on trial basis. When he was crossed-examined, Turk argued that when first employed there was no agreement on the working hours and that at the time no chef was employed. He confirmed also that his wages were €1600 or €1800 a month. He explained that the accused also failed to register him as an employee and he had repeatedly asked for this to be done.

Another former employee, Senket Ozmer, testified and told the court that the accused did not follow the employment laws. He corroborated Turk, as they worked in the kitchen on 12 hour shifts from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm.

Jobsplus officials also confirmed that Turk was not registered as an employee with the accused’s company.

The Court commented that this attitude and behaviour was a challenge to the laws and the authorities of this country. The accused also failed to reply to communications public officials made to draw his attention to his failing. He continued with his practice of employing and dismissing people after telling them that they were working on a trial basis, and had no right to be paid.

The accused testified and produced an advert for employees dated 5-7 February and therefore, it was impossible that Turk was employed before those dates, Turk held that he was employed on 5 February 2016. Khalifa argued that the rate agreed was €4.50 an hour and not €10.38. He worked 8 hours a day for six times a week. He also stated that Turk’s employment was terminated because he had left meats out and therefore, the notice period was not an option for Turk. He told the court that he himself had carried out the refurbishment of the premises, with the help of the tile layers. Turk had only helped in carrying out a machine. When he was employed he was employed on a trial basis and was intended to help him until he found another job. Other employees were employed on shifts. The Court was not convinced with this version of events. The Court further commented that the accused ran his business unprofessionally by not observing the law and was bent on taking advantage of employees, by not paying them.

The Court declared that Khalifa was guilty of a number of provisions of the Employment and Industrial Relations Act (Chapter 452 of the Law of Malta) and ordered that he pay €4,369.30 to Turk.
 
Dr. Malcolm Mifsud
Partner
Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates
 
This article may also be accessed on Malta Today.  
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