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Title: A scoping review of the current family-friendly practices in Malta ; with recommendations for policy and research post Covid-19
Authors: Abela, Angela
Sammut Scerri, Clarissa
Grech Lanfranco, Ingrid
Keywords: Work-life balance -- Malta
Families -- Malta
Quality of life -- Malta
Stress (Physiology)
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: University of Malta. Faculty for Social Wellbeing
Citation: Abela, A., Sammut Scerri, C., & Grech Lanfranco, I. (2020). A scoping review of the current family-friendly practices in Malta; with recommendations for policy and research post Covid-19. Malta: Faculty for Social Wellbeing, University of Malta.
Abstract: The aim of this scoping review is to explore the present work-life balance in Malta and the challenges for families in order to be able to put forward potential recommendations for future research and suggestions for policy development. This review sought to uncover stress factors which exist in Maltese families despite the efforts made by the Government to support them across time, through the introduction of diverse family-friendly practices. Findings from this review suggest that Maltese workers are experiencing high stress levels in terms of finding a good fit between their work, and family responsibilities and their own personal wellbeing. Malta like the rest of Europe has been facing a number of changes in its societal and labour market in the past decades namely a high employment rate (73.4% in 2019, Eurostat, 2020), a very low birth rate (fertility rate of 1.23 in 2018) and an increased life expectancy (World Health Organization, WHO, 2019). The latter increases the chances of age-old dependency and care by family members. Even though female employment has increased dramatically over the years reaching 66.7% in 2019 (Eurostat, 2020), the Gender Pay Gap (GPG) in Malta also increased from 7.8% in 2007 to 11.7% in 2018, placing Malta below the EU average of 15.7% (Eurostat, 2020). To date, men are still considered to be the main breadwinners whilst most home and childcare responsibilities are still attributed to women. There are also a number of unrecognised family obligations which add further burden on Maltese workers such as the expectation for young couples to own their own home by the point of marriage and a legal obligation for adult children to care for their elderly parents when needed (Eurofound, 2018). Malta has underdeveloped support schemes for family carers (Bouget et al., 2016, as cited in Eurofound, 2018) since the legislation about workers’ entitlements with regard to the use of flexible working arrangements that enable care and work navigation is not well-developed. The Gender Equality Index for Malta is 62.5, close to the EU average of 67.4 but far away from that available in countries which fare better such as Sweden (83.6). Moreover, in spite of free childcare, Malta is one of the topmost countries with a significant contribution to childcare from grandparents (51%, Eurofound, 2018). This is because only a small percentage (7%) of parents are willing to send their children to childcare in their first year of life and given the very short maternity leave and the inexistence of paternity leave, parents are obliged to turn to their parents for support. Malta also ranks with the middle third range of worldwide countries in terms of childcare enrolment under 3 years (31%), which is slightly lower than the 33% Barcelona target set by the EU (Chzen, Gromada and Rees, 2019). Paid leave for parents is another area where Malta is lagging behind, ranking bottom third among the world’s richest countries (29th for paid maternity leave and 32nd for paid paternity leave). According to the Gender Equality Index (EIGE, 2019), Malta has one of the largest gender gaps in terms of eligibility for parental leave in Europe (31 p.p). In 2016, nearly all parental leave schemes and career breaks in the public sector were taken up by women. This highlights the use of family-friendly measures imbalance between male and female workers and resonate the consequences which to date discriminate against women who avail themselves of such measures.
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