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Title: Malta : working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2021
Other Titles: Industrial relations and social dialogue
Authors: Fiorini, Luke
Rizzo, Saviour
Keywords: COVID-19 (Disease) -- Social aspects
COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020-
COVID-19 (Disease) -- Economic aspects
Industrial relations -- Malta
COVID-19 (Disease) -- Malta
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound)
Citation: Fiorini, L. A., & Rizzo, S. (2022). Malta : working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2021. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound)
Series/Report no.: Working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2021;WPEF22021
Abstract: The year 2021 was again dominated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 cases had been on the rise since July 2020, however the number of cases seen between January and March 2021 were amongst the highest recorded up until that point. The rising case numbers resulted in many non-essential enterprises being closed or having their business restricted by public health measures which were introduced in March 2021. Subsequently, many state measures introduced in 2020 which focused on aiding organisations with their liquidity and supporting wages were extended into 2021. As the COVID-19 vaccine program, which commenced at the beginning of 2021, and public health measures took effect, COVID-19 case numbers dropped and organisations were gradually re-opened between April and June. Subsequently, the Government announced plans to phase out support measures which aided with liquidity and wages by the end of the year, and introduced a number of new measures aimed at aiding organisations to-reopen or re-engineer. As the year progressed, the number of organisations making use of several support measures, such as moratoriums on loans began to fall, whereas unemployment in 2021 remained low and was lower than the rate seen in 2020. Thus, tangible signs of recovery were seen. Despite this, the aggregate level of economic activity remained lower than levels seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (Central Bank of Malta, 2021a). Despite Malta’s vaccine program proving to be one of the fastest in Europe, and very high rates of uptake, the year ended with the state commencing a vaccine booster program and record numbers of COVID-19 cases, which statistically eclipsed anything that had been seen up until that point during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the record number of cases, the percentage of hospitalisation rates remained relatively low – a factor attributed to the high rate of vaccinated individuals – and the Government resisted calls from some social partners to re-introduce lockdown measures. A key support measure, termed the COVID-19 Wage Supplement, which aided affected organisations with funding their employees’ wages which was due to expire at the end of 2021 was however extended into 2022.
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