The below frequently asked questions were provided by Jobsplus during a webinar entitled Training & Employment Scheme held on 21 May 2020, and updated on 18 May 2021.
1. What is the A2E Scheme?
Access to Employment (A2E) Scheme provides employment aid to enterprises in Malta and Gozo to promote the recruitment of the more challenged amongst jobseekers and inactive persons.
2. Who can benefit from the A2E Scheme?
The applicant must meet all the eligibility criteria to benefit from this scheme. Eligible applicants cover all Employers having an economic activity irrespective of their legal form.
These include partnerships, companies, family businesses, associations, individual self-employer or other body of persons, NGOs and Social Partners, when recruiting new employees (or keeping in employment newly registered disabled person).
NGOs and Social Partners not having an economic activity are also eligible to benefit from the scheme.
For participants to be eligible, they have to fall under the below criteria:
3. What are the eligible grants under the A2E Scheme?
Employers applying for the A2E Scheme whose application is found eligible will receive a subsidy of €104.50 (full-time) / €52.25 (part-time) per week per new recruit engaged, for a period of 52 weeks or 104 weeks, depending on the target group.
In the case of registered disabled persons, a subsidy of €156.50 (full-time) / €78.25 (part-time) per week for a maximum of 156 weeks is provided.
Rates will be revised on an annual basis to include the cost of living increase.
4. Can an employer change the conditions of work of his/her employee participating in the A2E Scheme (mainly reducing the number of hours – from 40 hours to 20 hours weekly)?
In such circumstances the employer should inform the A2E Unit immediately by submitting the change request form downloadable from Jobsplus website https://jobsplus.gov.mt/schemes-jobseekers/fileprovider.aspx?fileId=11331. Copy of any correspondence between the employer and the Director of Employment and Industrial Relations may also be required. The A2E will assess the request on a case by case basis and will inform the employer accordingly. If such request is approved an addendum to the original A2E contract is issued whilst the employer has the legal responsibility to fill and submit the engagement and termination forms within the stipulated legal time frames, i.e. on the first day of employment in case of engagements (as per Articles 36 and 37 of the Employment and Training Service Act No. XXXIX of 2018) and within four days after termination of employment (as per Article 40 of the Employment and Training Service Act No. XXXIX of 2018).. The minimum hours of the new contract cannot be less than 20 hours weekly.
5. Can an employer reduce the hours of a part-time employee (less than 20 hours per week)?
In case of part-time employment, the participant may work a minimum of 20 hours per week or more. In case the employee is working less than 20 hours [even during the current situation (i.e. Covid-19 period)] the A2E subsidy will be forfeited. The A2E Scheme cannot provide subsidy for less than 20 hours.
6. Can an employer benefit again from the scheme if they had to apply for the same A2E participants which were terminated due to redundancies?
The applicant can only benefit once for a participant irrelevant to the termination reason.
Article 2.2.2g of the A2E Guidance Notes – “A participant can apply only once under the A2E Scheme with the same Undertaking”.
7. With regards to the social measures being offered in respect to Persons with Disability who work in the private sector “COVID-19 – Person with Disability Benefit”, Parents who both work in the private sector “COVID-19 – Parent Benefit” and Vulnerable Persons who work in the private sector “COVID-19 – Medical Benefit”- will such funds affect the A2E scheme payments since the employees themselves have to apply for such benefits through social security?
The employer cannot claim for any A2E Scheme wage subsidy for any employee/s if such wage is not incurred. If the person with disability and/or Parents working from home and/or Vulnerable persons are found eligible for the DSS Covid-19 initiatives, they will not be receiving any wage from their employer. Thus, the employer cannot be subsidized for any unpaid wages.
Jobsplus reserves the right to verify with the Ministry for Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity.
8. If an employer applies for the COVID Wage Supplement being offered by Malta Enterprise will s/he be eligible to receive the subsidy from the A2E Scheme?
An employer receiving wage subsidy under Annex A / B / C of the Covid Wage Supplement offered by the Malta Enterprise1 can still also claim the A2E Scheme wage subsidy for the same employee and period, as long as the combined support does not lead to overcompensation of the wage costs of the personnel concerned. In case Malta Enterprise Wage Supplement application is rejected the employer will be given the possibility to apply for the A2E reimbursement for the COVID period. Jobsplus reserves the right to verify with Malta Enterprise whilst the Employer is obliged to fill in the COVID wage supplement declaration available on https://jobsplus.gov.mt/schemes-jobseekers/fileprovider.aspx?fileId=18155.
9. In case an employer is not eligible for COVID wage supplement and is not forking out any salary but keeps the A2E employee as part of its workforce will the employer be reimbursed from the A2E Scheme?
No, the A2E Employer will not be eligible for any subsidy from the A2E Scheme since as per GBER ‘wage cost’ means the total amount payable by the beneficiary of the aid in respect of the employment concerned.
The A2E Scheme will only subsidise those employers who have issued a salary to their employee/s.
It is to be noted that only remunerated employment performed on Maltese Territory must be registered with Jobsplus. The collection and updating of employment records is stipulated in Articles 35-45 (Part V) of the Employment and Training Service Act No. XXXIX of 2018 (Chapter 594) – Jobsplus Act.
10. When is the deadline to submit application form?
Complete applications must be submitted by the end of August 2022 and recruitment must take place by end September 2022.
The Applicant shall fill in and submit the latest available Access to Employment Application form found on the Jobsplus website https://jobsplus.gov.mt/a2e complete with all relevant details, including supporting documentation as applicable
11. How can an employer submit an A2E application during the COVID period?
Prospective applicants and beneficiaries are to note that given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, only soft copies sent via email will be accepted; no hard copy of applications or claims for reimbursement, whether submitted by mail, by hand or any other means, will be accepted until further notice.
Likewise, no pen-drives, cd’s etc will be accepted. This applies to submissions of any A2E documents at Hal Far and other Jobsplus Offices in Malta and Gozo.
Only applications and claims for reimbursement that successfully reach the working mailbox by the close of the applicable deadline, will be considered. It remains the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application and claim for reimbursement was successfully delivered.
All documents need to have an electronic signature or email from the person authorised to sign the document.
Documentation must be submitted to the following email addresses: Access to Employment (A2E) Scheme on [email protected]
More information is available on https://jobsplus.gov.mt/announcement-coronavirus.
12. My firm was established in the last 12 months. Can I apply for the A2E Scheme if through such new recruitment there is a net increase in the number of employees?
The condition in paragraph (3) of Article 32 is meant to ensure that no employees are made redundant with the objective of re-hire of disadvantaged workers in order to benefit from the State aid. If the company is in existence for less than 12 months, the average number of workers shall be calculated over the period for which the company was in existence. The firm may thus acquire grants for the recruitment of disadvantaged workers if there is a net increase in the number of employees.
13. Why I need to register a net increase in the number of employees?
Article 32 (3) and Article 33 (3) of the GBER regulation intend to clarify in what circumstances the recruitment or wage costs of newly employed personnel shall be eligible for support, even in case of no net increase in the number of total employees of the undertaking (and without prejudice to the net increase in another establishment of that undertaking).
Therefore, as the beneficiary of the aid will be the undertaking, the conditions concerning the net increase should apply at the level of the undertaking.
In case of newly-established enterprises which have commenced operations within the previous three years and whose accounts have not yet been submitted, the data to be applied is to be derived from a bona fide estimate made in the course of the financial year.
- Projections are required for newly-established enterprises registered within the last 12 months preceding the application.
- Estimates are required for newly-established enterprises within the last 13 to 36 months preceding the application.
14. Premature Termination Cases
Upon premature termination of the grant agreement, both the Employer and the Participant must fill in and submit the Jobsplus termination Form within four days after termination of employment (as per Article 40 of the Employment and Training Service Act No. XXXIX of 2018). The below scenarios mentioned to guide the Employer and/or participant on how to proceed in particular circumstances. There may, of course be different scenarios:
Case 1: Termination during Probation Period:
If the employment is terminated during probation, the Employer will be entitled to claim the subsidy due for the actual employment grant period of the participant.
Case 2: Participant terminated or resigned during the grant subsidy period or retention period:
In line with Article 32 para 5 of the General Block Exemption Regulation COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty if the period of employment is shorter than 12 months, or 24 months in the case of severely disadvantaged workers, the aid shall be reduced pro rata accordingly. In this regard the IB will retain the prerogative to reimburse the undertaking only for the weeks completed in full on the A2E scheme in case the grant period or the retention period is not respected. In case of workers with disabilities, according to Article 33 para 2 the eligible costs shall be the wage costs over any given period during which the worker with disabilities is employed. The above is without prejudice to any other conditions laid down in the grant agreement.
Case 3: Participant’s employment terminated during the grant subsidy period or grant retention period of the A2E Scheme due to pensionable age:
In the case that the employer terminates the employment of the participant due to pensionable age, no reimbursement will be due.
Case 4: Participant made redundant during the grant subsidy period or grant retention period of the A2E Scheme:
In case of redundancy of the participant, no reimbursement will be due. As indicated in article 14.1 and article 14.2 of the Grant Agreement, when an employee is terminated on redundancy basis during the subsidy period or during the grant retention period, the employer will forfeit his right to receive any funds through A2E. In case part of full payments are already processed, the Employer will be requested to refund back the public funds received. Late payment interest may also apply.
Case 5: The Employee is dismissed during the grant subsidy period or retention period:
If, after the lapse of probationary employment the employee has been dismissed, the Employer must within three (3) days from termination of the employee’s employment submit a Notice to the IB containing the reasons justifying the termination of employment. In absence of such Notice, then the employee shall be deemed to have been unfairly dismissed. If within one (1) week from dismissal the employee gives notice to the IB that he/she intends to take action against the Employer before the Industrial Tribunal, the IB shall await the final decision of the Industrial Tribunal or Court of Appeal as the case may before deciding on the matter. If such notice is not given, the IB may affect payment of any aid to the Employer subject to the right to claim back from the Employer any aid paid if the Industrial Tribunal or Court of Appeal finds that the employee was unfairly dismissed by the Employer.
Case 6: The employee is terminated due to health reasons during the grant subsidy period or retention period:
If the termination reason on the Jobsplus Termination Form is ‘Health Reason’, the employer will be requested to provide to Jobsplus with a scanned copy of a medical certificate / note from a doctor which has been presented from the employee stating the reason why such employee is no longer fit to perform that specific work.
More information can be found here: https://jobsplus.gov.mt/a2e/a2eforms