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MaltaToday 20 July 2022 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 20 JULY 2022 2 NEWS INFLATION was up 6.1% in June when compared to the same month last year, figures released by the Na- tional Statistics Office show. Annual inflation in June as meas- ured by the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), contin- ued the upward trend of recent months. In May, annual inflation stood at 5.8%. However, inflation in Malta re- mained the lowest in the EU, ac- cording to figures released on the same day by Eurostat, the EU sta- tistics agency. The euro area aver- age inflation in June stood at 8.6%, while across all EU27 countries the average stood at 9.6%. Food prices were the main driver yet again behind the June increase. Annual inflation in the food and non-alcoholic beverage index in- creased by 1.7 points, followed by restaurant and hotel prices that in- creased by 1.1 points. The only downward impact was registered in the communication index, which decreased by less than 0.1 points. The HICP is the instrument used to measure inflation across the EU, allowing comparisons to be made between the different coun- tries. Although similar to the Retail Price Index (RPI) used locally as a measure to set wage increases, the HICP's composition is different. HICP has been used by the Europe- an Central Bank (ECB) as the meas- ure of price stability across the euro area. The 12-month moving average rate for June stood at 3.1%, the high- est it has ever been in three years. Inflation in Malta surpasses 6% but remains lowest in EU David Casa decries government's minimal effort in implementing Work-Life Balance directive LUKE VELLA DAVID Casa welcomed the Maltese gov- ernment's adoption of the Work-Life Bal- ance Directive but lamented that only the bare minimum was impleneted. The Nationalist MEP had worked on the directive that sets minimum standards for leave conditions to be enjoyed by new parents. The new rules adopted in Mal- ta will see fathers getting 10 days of paid leave, among other benefits. Casa said the directive was aimed at ad- dressing inequalities between men and women, whilst promoting a culture of shared responsibility. He said that the le- gal notice brought "drastic change" to the current legislation, as currently fathers only get one day of paid leave. "This is an important step for a coun- try like Malta, and I'm proud I was re- sponsible for it. Fathers can now spend more time and be close to the baby and the mother after birth," Casa said during a press conference at PN headquarters. He was flanked by MPs Ivan Castillo and Graziella Attard Previ. Under the legal notice published by the government on 12 July, fathers are set to receive 10 days of paid leave, parental leave will be split into two months of paid and two months of unpaid leave, carers will benefit from five days of unpaid leave and parents will have the right to request flexible working arrangements for the first eight years of the child's life. However, Casa said the new measures introduced by Malta were the minimum set by the EU directive. He also criticised the fact that the paid parental leave was set to a minimum wage, and not at full pay. "Unfortunately, it was just a minimal ef- fort. The directive was concluded in 2019 and the government dragged its feet till the last minute. The government did not engage in proper consultation with the social partners," Casa said. The new rules received mixed reviews from the social partners. Employer bod- ies welcomed the government's decision to stick to the minimum entitlements of the EU Directive but complained that the costs of these measures will be carried by employers from 2024 onwards. How- ever, various lobby groups, including the Women's Lobby and Graffitti, decried government's decision to opt for the bare minimum, which they insist will not be enough to remove the disparity between women and men in the eyes of employers. "Businesses and SMEs are being asked to pay for these measures. Leave is restricted and inflexible. And parents of babies born before August 2 are being excluded from these rights for years to come," Casa said. "I welcome the implementation of the di- rective but it leaves a lot of questions and disappointments. We could have had a stronger law. Hopefully, the government regards it as a social service and not as im- posed by European directives." PN MP Graziella Attard Previ said the government procrastinated on the law till the last minute, pointing out that it had to become law by the end of August. "It is not true that the government is im- plementing it because it was an electoral pledge. Would the government have in- troduced the law if it wasn't a European directive?" Attard Previ said. She said that if the government truly believed in the law, it would have gone beyond the minimum imposed by the directive. Attard Previ also questioned whether the government consulted with the families and said that a "one-size-fits- all" approach was wrong. PN MP Ivan Castillo said that the legal notice was rushed and that it was "con- veniently" published when parliament was closed. He also argued that the fact that paren- tal leave was not paid in full, further dis- couraged parents from having children, in a country with the lowest fertility rate in the EU. Nationalist MEP David Casa was the European Parliament's lead negotiator of the Work-Life Balance Directive

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