Matthew Brincat

Senior Associate, Ganado Advocates

As a Senior Associate within the Insurance and Pensions practice area, Dr Matthew Brincat leads the Employment Law practice within GANADO Advocates. He graduated with a Doctor of Laws from the University of Malta in 2001 and read for a Master of Laws in Labour Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) the following year. Matthew's legal practice mainly revolves around employment and pensions – areas of law he believes connect both the human and the corporate aspects of legislation. He is also a director of EELA, a member of the Lex Mundi European Employment Practices Group, and delivers lectures about employment and pensions law on a regular basis.

Bring on the ‘ink’quisition: Can an employer ban tattoos or force employees to cover them?

Friday 20th May 2016

Following a recent publication in the Times of Malta, we are being asked on a regular basis whether an employer in Malta can have rules which regulate tattoos in the workplace.

It is a fact that tattoos are becoming more popular. In the UK for example, one in every five persons has at least one tattoo on their body, according to research cited by the British Association of Dermatologists in 2012. Although we don’t have exact figures for Malta, we have seen an increase in the tattoo culture over the past decade, as it slowly integrates into the social norm and is no longer solely linked to foreign sailors and gang members which people associated tattoos with 40 years ago.

This change in ideology brings with it new developments within the employment sphere: where does an employer draw the line? Should the line be drawn at all? The law is silent on this issue, and does not specifically regard the lack of access to employment or restrictions imposed by the employer due to body art as being discriminatory.

Current practice supports employers’ rights to implement appearance policies through dress codes in order to retain the company’s image, especially when the employee is client facing. As a result, it would generally be accepted that a worker in a restaurant kitchen with a visible tattoo is not an issue, but a visible tattoo on a waiter’s forearm or hand is simply not on.

So what does the law say about this? Well, the only employment law rule that one can use when feeling discriminated against within these circumstances is the definition of discrimination found in the employment and industrial relations act, which states that if something is ‘not justifiable in a democratic society’, it may be discriminatory.

So what is justifiable, you may ask. The truth is that there is no straight answer, and it’s always about a balance between the employer’s right to protect his business interests in a reasonable manner and the right of the employee to express himself freely, perhaps even by means of a tattoo.

Daniel Bugeja

Business Doctor

The Importance of Assessing Staff Engagement Within Your Company

January 2018

Having strong engagement within a company yields better results in general

Joseph Micallef

Chief Operations Officer at BEAT

The Individual As The Driver Of Change

January 2018

Change remains one of the most topical – and in many ways, still controversial – aspects of organisational management.

George Mangion

Senior Partner, PKF Malta

The shifting sands of our financial services sector

January 2018

At a slow but unrelenting pace, the mood for change in Europe is getting stronger following the BEPS and ATID measures, not to mention the negative publicity from the PANA review.

Paul Bugeja

CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority

Sustaining the Valletta 2018 effect

December 2017

Now that Valletta 2018 is round the corner, it is satisfying to note that the build-up of marketing towards it has generated a positive effect for the Maltese islands.

Daniel Debono

EU affairs manager, Head of Brussels operations, Malta Business Bureau

2018: A Critical Year For The EU To Deliver

December 2017

When one looks back at President Juncker’s 10 political guidelines that were set at the beginning of his mandate, one concludes that this last Commission programme is a continuation of the work undertaken over the past four years, and aims to complete some of the political projects.

Louis Olivieri

Marketing Specialist

Corporate Anniversaries – More Than A Reason To Party

December 2017

It pays organisations to capitalise on special occasions with elements which contribute to and/or are compatible with the reasons for their existence and growth path.