The government is considering a number of structural changes in the tax system to encourage female participation in the labour market aimed at ensuring that work pays for women.
The Tax Reform Commission set up by the Prime Minister is assessing a number of suggestions made by the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality.
“These measures will address the tax-benefit interaction within the context of unemployment and inactivity for Maltese women,” a spokesperson for the ministry for the family and social solidarity told Business Today.
Gender mainstreaming, flexible work arrangement and high quality child care are the other key policy planks in the government’s strategy to redress the gap between men and women in the labour market.
The government is currently analysing the implications of a report published in February, showing that Malta has the largest gap between men and women at the workplace in the European Union.
The report includes a roadmap for equality between women and men for the 2006-2010 period.
The ministry’s spokesperson said, if necessary the government is ready to update its current plans and measures to adopt to the Commission’s recommendations. “The Roadmap for equality between women and men 2006-2010 is directly applicable to us,” the spokesperson told Business Today.
In order to address the gender gap, the report encourages member states to develop high quality childcare.
Government will also uphold its commitment for the creation of high-quality and affordable child-care centres.
“Whilst acknowledging that these have to be put in place in the shortest time possible, it is however imperative that we do not compromise on quality, since our children definitely deserve nothing but the best.”
In light of reaching the report’s objectives, the Government is re-affirming its commitment to gender mainstreaming, a government policy since 1999.
To this effect, specific methods and tools are being developed by the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality to implement this strategy in the most effective manner possible.
The government is also preparing for the transposition of the ‘equal opportunities in goods and services’ directive.
From a legal perspective, plans are also in place to ensure compliance with equal opportunities legislation “in a more aggressive manner.”
Another priority for the government is that of eliminating the prevailing perception that flexible work arrangements intended to achieve a better work-life balance would reduce a company’s productive potential
The National Commission for Equality is currently implementing a pilot project on teleworking. E-work is also being viewed within the context of Malta’s IT and Environmental Policies.
Malta Enterprise is also implementing a particular project targeted at potential female entrepreneurs.
The NCPE has managed to tap EU funds necessary to implement an educational campaign.
“The European Year for Equal Opportunities for All – 2007, should be a good platform for further awareness-raising of the negative implications of discrimination and of the richness of diversity.”
While showing that Malta has the largest job gap between males and females in Europe, the same EU commission report shows that Malta has one of the lowest pay gaps between men and women.
But according to the Ministry’s spokesperson Malta’s low pay gap could be due to the different methodologies used in different countries.
“This is a case of different weights, different measures. For example, some countries calculate pay gap basing themselves on hourly rates, others on a week’s wage, and others still on a yearly income.”
The NCPE estimates that the pay gap in Malta is close to between 16 and 18 per cent.
The NCPE has commissioned a national study on the actual gender pay gap locally. Results are expected to be in hand by September 2006.
“This study is another example of EU funding put to good use since the NCPE were awarded funding from the European Social Fund,” the spokesperson told BusinessToday.