My Business and human rights: A guide to human rights for SMEs

European Commission has recently published a guide to human rights for SMEs
which you will find attached to this email. This guidebook aims to give SME
entrepreneurs guidance on how to address and minimise risks related to possible
human rights violations that can occur within a company or in its relations
with other businesses, e.g. suppliers. The guide is based on the UN Guiding
Principles on Business and Human Rights and translates these principles into
the context of European SMEs.

So what exactly are the UN Guiding Principle on
Business and Human Rights?

UN Guiding Principles define what governments and businesses should do in order
to avoid and address negative impacts on human rights by businesses. This guide
focuses on what is expected of businesses. The UN Guiding Principles give all
businesses – small and large – the recipe for what it takes to respect human rights.

What kind of enterprise is this guide for?

guide has been written for small and medium sized enterprises in the European
Union.  All enterprises, from small and
medium-sized enterprises through to large multinational corporations, have a
responsibility to respect human rights.

But what are human rights?

rights are the rights we are entitled to simply because we are human beings.
They represent the universally agreed minimum conditions that enable all people
to maintain their dignity. Human rights are inherent to all of us, whatever our
nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour,
religion, language, or any other status.

I manage a company, so why should I take an
interest in human rights?

Like most managers, you probably aim to treat your employees and
customers respectfully. By actively dealing with human rights, you can make
sure that this is the case. It's an opportunity to make sure your business puts
people first and is a business you can be truly proud of.

So will respecting human rights make my
business more profitable?

the answer is yes, but not always and maybe not immediately. Dealing explicitly
with human rights can function as a radar or early-warning system. It enables
you to identify potential problems and to resolve them before they become more
serious and more costly. A human rights focus may also improve customer
relations and reputation, and enhance employees' job satisfaction, with a
positive impact on productivity and efficiency. It may help you to avoid
additional costs associated with attracting and keeping the right staff,
gaining permits or dealing with public opposition to new business ideas you may
have. Avoiding and addressing negative human rights impacts can also inspire innovative
solutions and improvements that help you to be a stronger, more resilient
business. The bottom line is that you have a responsibility to respect human
rights whether or not it brings financial benefits to your business.

My company complies with the law. Isn't that enough?

you are operating in the EU and you comply with the law, you will usually have
come a long way towards ensuring that you do not negatively impact human
rights. For example, complying with health and safety regulation helps you to
avoid negative impacts on the right to life, the right to a safe work
environment and the right to physical and mental health.

Can I deal with human rights within my existing
management processes and systems?

you should be able to respect human rights by adjusting existing processes and
systems. For example, if you carry out risk analyses you may be able to expand
them to include identification of your risks of negative impacts on human
rights. You may also have in place management systems to help you handle health
and safety, environmental impacts or quality more efficiently. Such systems can
be used to help you avoid and address possible negative human rights impacts.

Am I expected to do this on my own?

and no. The responsibility is yours, but you will probably find it useful to
collaborate with others and benefiting from lessons learned. The authorities
will guide you and support you in your initiatives.


Rights considerations in you own activities

1. When you recruit employees…

  • Do
    you consider only competences and experiences when assessing who to hire?
  • Do
    you ask only for information that is relevant for the job to be fulfilled?
  • Do
    you make reasonable accommodations to allow employees with disabilities to have
    job opportunities with your business?
  • Do
    you keep private information about the applicants safely stored?





2. Once you have recruited employees and they are working for you…

  • Do
    you encourage a work environment in which people respect each other?
  • Do
    you have measures in place to avoid and combat discrimination in the workplace?
  • Do
    you take measures to protect employees from incidents of bullying, sexual
    harassment and other kinds of harassment, either from other employees or from
    outsiders such as customers, vendors and clients?
  • Do
    you ensure that wages are paid on a regular basis, and in a timely manner?



3. When setting salaries and deciding
who to promote…

  • Do
    you ensure equal pay for equal work or for work of equal value?
  • Do
    you increase wages and provide benefits based on objective factors avoiding
  • Do
    you ensure fair and transparent promotion and career development opportunities?
  • If
    your business employs low-skilled, migrant or seasonal labour, do you know that
    the overall income received by the workers concerned is adequate for their
    basic needs to be met, taking account of any additional wage support that may
    be provided by the state?




4. When one of your employees gets pregnant or has a pregnant spouse…

  • Do
    you alter work plans of such employees in light of the maternity or paternity?
  • Do
    you brief your employees on how to manage and act in relation to pregnancy of
  • Do
    you make sure that you don't discriminate pregnant employees or young women
    e.g. in connection to
  • recruitment
    or promotion?




5. If you advertise products…

  • Do
    you avoid reinforcing prejudices and stigmatising people or groups in your
  • Do
    you have a channel for feedback in place allowing the public to comment on your



6. If you sell products directly to

  • Is
    consumer information securely stored and do consumers know how you will use
    such information?
  • Do
    you provide clear instructions for use of and warnings about hazardous



7. If your employees work under highly stressful conditions…

  • Do
    you pay extra attention to employees' well-being in times of particular stress
    and pressure?
  • Do
    you create an open atmosphere where employees feel confident in talking about
    stress or stress related symptoms?



8. If your employees work with
harmful substances…

  • Do
    you ensure that your employees have instructions and receive training on how to
    handle the substances
  • and
    what to do if accidents occur?
  • Do
    you ensure employee access to first aid equipment?
  • Do
    you regularly conduct inspections to ensure that health and safety requirements
    are fulfilled?




9. If your business uses machinery or

  • Are
    the machines or vehicles used in your business safe to operate, and do you regularly
    check their safety features?
  • Are
    all employees using machinery or vehicles adequately trained and authorised to
    operate them?



further information:

European jobs and mobility fair

The European Employment Service
(EURES) of the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) and the European Union
Programmes Agency (EUPA) are organising the European Jobs and Mobility Fair.
The European Jobs and Mobility Fair will take place on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th December, at the Grand Hotel
Excelsior, Floriana. Opening hours are: 09:00hrs
– 13:00hrs, and 15:00hrs – 19:00hrs, on both days.

More information on
the European Jobs and Mobility Fair can be obtained from EURES Malta and the
EUPA by phone on 8007 6505 (EURES) and 2558 6130 (EUPA). The fair will bring
together EURES advisors from different European countries to promote the work
opportunities in their respective country, as well as to give information and
advice about the living and working conditions in that country. Information
sessions on each represented country will be held. The participating countries
are: United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. The EUPA
will be promoting its EU funded programmes, namely the Lifelong Learning
Programme (Comenius, Leonardo da Vinci, Erasmus and Grundtvig) and the Youth in
Action Programme. EUPA supports Maltese individuals and entities in availing
themselves of funding under the various educational programmes provided by the
European Commission. During the fair information related to EU-wide initiatives
including Euroguidance, Eurodesk, Euro-Med Youth Platform and Europass shall
also be provided. The European Jobs and Mobility Fair is an excellent
opportunity for those people, of all ages and educational background, who are
interested in living and working in mainland Europe, as well as for those who
want to learn more about the various educational and vocational learning
programmes of the European Union

Click here for more information:

Green MT notification: Applications for Provisional Exemption from Eco Contribution-Year 2013

The Approving Body
(Eco-Contributions), set up in terms of Legal Notice No. 84/2010, will be
receiving applications for ‘Eco-Contribution Exemption' from the Producers for
the period 1st January, 2013 to the 31st December, 2013.

Applications forms
have to be submitted to the Approving Body, Ministry for Resources and Rural
Affairs, by Green MT. Applications for Exemption need to be signed by GREEN MT
for each individual Producer applying for exemption from Eco Contribution for
2013.  Applications will be signed on presentation of receipt showing
payment to Scheme for all 2012. Closing date is 18th January 2013. This would
allow the Approving Body a sufficient timeframe to process all applications on
time, that is, a number of days in advance of the 15th February VAT deadline.

If you have already obtained the Eco
Contribution Exemption Certificate for past years, you need to RE-APPLY for the
year 2013.

Before submitting the application
form to the Scheme, you are advised to check the Guidelines for Schemes and

(HS Codes 2201, 2202, 2203, 2204, 2205,
2206, 2208, 3303, 3304, 3305, 3306, 3307, 3402, 3923, 7010 and 7612)

Green MT takes this opportunity to
inform Producer Members that our offices are open to receiving these
applications between Monday to Friday from 08.00 am to 16.30 pm.  

We thank you for your cooperation and
wish you best wishes for Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Application forms for exemptions and
guidelines can be obtained from Green MT officials is by phone of email

Mission for Growth – Peru – 23 to 26 January

Call for interest – Vice-President Tajani is inviting
companies to join them on the next mission for growth to Peru and Chile from 23
to 26 January 2013. His key objective is to persuade political leaders of the
importance of closer cooperation with the EU as a means of generating growth
and jobs for both sides. He will be accompanied by top-level business leaders
with a strong interest in developing their links with the countries concerned.

These missions have as objectives:

1.      to promote sustainable and
inclusive growth in the European Union and the visited countries;

2.      to help EU companies,
including SMEs, to exploit business opportunities in the countries concerned;
to this end political agreements as basis for further cooperation in various
sectors under VP Tajani's  responsibility
will be signed;

3.      promote EU industry in
targeted sectors by organizing matchmaking events with local entrepreneurs and
by participating in major events that take place in these countries during the

The presence of individual
CEOs/entrepreneurs interested in cooperation with Peru and Chile in the
delegation will be the key for the success of the missions.

Contact GRTU's EU & International
Desk for more information or your interest in participation.

Green MT hands out ponseittas to Kercem residents who separate their waste

Kercem Local Council and Green MT
decided to thank those residents who participate in the collection of
recyclables through the grey bag by giving them a ponseitta on Tuesday 11th
December. The ponseitta was given to those families where the recycling bag was
found outside their doors.

Kercem Local Council and the waste
carrier in the locality are very proactive for the collection of separated
recyclables. From Kercem, Green MT recovers 940   kilos weekly of recyclable materials.

It was actually the waste carrier of
the locality who recommended such an initiative and Green MT accepted the
proposal. Last Tuesday 232 households out of a total of 580 occupied households
had a grey bag outside their household. This means that 40% of the households
within Kercem are recovering recyclables in this locality. It is pertinent to
point out that a number of what are described as occupied households are
resided only during the summer months.

Green MT takes this opportunity to
thank its Eco Councillors for taking an early trip to Gozo and be at Kercem by
8 am to start checking the roads for the grey bag. A thank you goes also to the
Local Council for distributing these ponseittas.

Green MT wishes one and all A Merry

Doing business with Cuba

GRTU President Paul Abela, Deputy
President Philip Fenech and GRTU Executive on International Relations Abigail
Mamo have this week welcomed 2 counsellors from the Cuban Embassy in Rome while
on a Trade Mission to Malta. This was the first event of its type between Malta
and Cuba.

GRTU President gave an introduction of
how GRTU works and he proposed the signing of an MOU between the two businesses
representatives in both countries, which would further facilitate business. The
Cuban representatives said that the opportunities in Cuba are many especially
now that the country is in time of transitional, and this is the ideal time for
businesses seeking to do business with Cuba.

Cuba is an island country in the Caribbean and home to over 11 million people and is the most populous
island nation in the Caribbean, as well as the largest by area.

The Cuban representatives said that the
biggest sector in Cuba and the one that holds most opportunity is tourism. They
want to open the definition of tourism in Cuba in all its complexity, meaning
not only sea and sun but also music, culture, architecture, the people and as a
very secure destination. Foreign businesses having an interest to target
tourism will surely find opportunities and support. Cuba is also very
interested to export cultural and medical services.

The Cuba Investment Law provides
guidelines on the way investments are permissible. There are a number of
options for a business owner to invest however these are mainly based on joint
ventures with Cuban partners and in any case require the approval from the
Cuban Ministry of Foreign Investment.

A Maltese mission to Cuba is being
planned sometime next year. More information will follow together with additional
opportunities available in Cuba.

The Embassy in Rome also deals with
diplomatic issues between Malta and Cuba and the Visa system is simple but
would require for the passport to be sent to Rome and returned in a week and 30
days for the visa to be issued.

Collective Management of Copyright and Multi-territorial Licensing of rights in online music works

Malta-EU Steering and Action Committee (MEUSAC) and the Commerce Department
(CD), Ministry for Fair Competition, Small Business and Consumers (MFCC) will
be holding a consultation session on the Proposal for a Directive of the
European Parliament and of the Council on collective management of copyright
and related rights and multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works
for online uses in the internal market [COM(2012) 372].

objective of the proposal is to put in place a better legal framework for the
collective management of rights that are administered by collecting societies
on behalf of right-holders such as authors, performers, producers etc. It will
provide for rules to improve the standards of governance, transparency and
financial management of all collecting societies, thus improving the management
of revenues collected on behalf of the right-holders (creators) as well as
enhancing the co-operation between collecting societies across the EU. It will
also set minimum standards, adapted to the digital world, for collecting
societies' multi-territorial licensing of authors' rights in musical works used
for the provision of online services, which allows for improved and simpler
cross-border licensing.

consultation session will be held on Tuesday, December 18, 2012, between 2:00pm
and 3:00pm, at the Multipurpose Hall, Education Department, Beltissebħ,



Council closes excessive deficit procedure for Malta

The Council has adopted a decision
closing the excessive deficit procedures for Malta, confirming that it has
reduced its deficit below 3% of GDP, the EU's reference value for government
deficits. The decision abrogates the decision that
the Council took in July 2009 on the existence of an excessive deficit in Malta
after its general government deficit reached 4.7% of GDP in 2008.

The Council
had initially called for the deficit to be corrected in 2010. However, in
February 2010, it extended the deadline for correction by one year in the light
of a sharperthan-expected deterioration in Malta's economy. Setting 2011 as the
new target year for correcting the deficit, the Council called on Malta to achieve
a 3.9% deficit in 2010 and to ensure a ¾ % of GDP fiscal effort in 2011. Malta
reduced its general government deficit to 3.6% of GDP in 2010 and to 2.7% in

The Commission projects the deficit to
fall further to 2.6% of GDP in 2012, mainly thanks to revenue-increasing
measures that are mostly of a one-off nature. Under a no-policychange scenario,
the general government deficit would widen to 2.9% of GDP in 2013 before
narrowing again, to 2.6% of GDP, in 2014, thus remaining below the 3% of GDP reference
value over the forecast horizon. Budget consolidation measures are however
contained in Malta's 2013 budget, which was adopted after the cut-off date for
the Commission's autumn economic forecast. The Council concluded that Malta's
excessive deficit has been corrected.

Skema biex aktar karozzi jahdmu bl-Autogas, ghal ambjent nadif u livell ta’ sahha ahjar

Il-Ministru għar-Riżorsi u l-Affarijiet
Rurali George Pullicino ħabbar id-dettalji ta' skema li qed tinċentiva
lis-sidien tal-karozzi biex il-karozzi jinqalbu biex jaħdmu wkoll bl-autogas.
Karozzi li jaħdmu b' autogas iniġġżu anqas u diġà insibu f'pajjiżna numru ta'
vetturi li nqallbu biex qed jaħdmu bl-autogas.

L-iskema se tidħol fis-seħħ mill-1
ta' Jannar 2013, se tinċentiva lil min jeqleb il-karozza tiegħu
għall-autogas  billi jingħata rifużjoni
ta' €200, u tibqa' fis-seħħ sakemm jibbenefikaw 1,000 persuna.  Din l-iskema qed issir b'investiment ta'

L-applikazzjonijiet għandhom jiġu
sottomessi fuq formoli pprovduti apposta u li se jkunu jistghu jinkisbu
mill-website wara l-1 ta' Jannar 2013 u għandhom jaslu
fil-Ministeru tar-Riżorsi u l-Affarijiet Rurali kif indikat fuq il-Formoli.
l-aplikant irid l-ewwel jiġi bl-applikazzjoni u jkun wara biss li tingħata
grant letter li jkun jista jaghmel il-conversion.

L-iskema hija applikabbli għal
individwi privati iżda teskludi vetturi li ma jintużawx għat-trasport personali.  Vetturi użati għall-skopijiet sportivi u
muturi fost oħrajn mhumiex inkużi fl-iskema. L-applikant irid ikun is-sid
rreġistrat tal-vettura li għaliha tkun qed issir l-applikazzjoni.  L-għotja hija limitata għal vettura waħda
għal kull dar. Familja li tkun ibbenifikat minn għotjiet oħra dwar ix-xiri
tal-vettura  ma hiex eliġibbli għal
għotja taħt din l-iskema.

Biex vettura tibbenifika minn din
l-iskema trid tilħaq dawn il-kriterji:

jkollha magna 2 ltr jew inqas;

liċenżjata fit-triq mhux qabel l-1 ta' Jannar 2009;

tkun reġistrata għal użu fit-triq ma' Transport Malta;

il-konversjoni tal-autogas tkun
saret minn persuna kompetenti skont il-lista ta' persuni pprovduta mill- Awtorita' Maltija għar-Riżorsi;

tilħaq l-istandards ta' UN ECE 67 u UN ECE 115 – standards
applikabbli għas-sistema ta' konverżjoni;

l-apparat installat u s-sistema
jkunu ttestjati skont il-Kodiċi ta' prattika tal-Awtorita' Maltija


Jekk 10% tal-karozzi tal-passiġġieri
fl-Ewropa jikkonvertu għal din is-sistema ta' fjuwil, f'sena, l-Europa tnaqqas
350 miljun tunnellata ta' CO2. Huwa kkalkulat ukoll li fl-istess perijodu jkunu
frankati €20 biljun f'external costs mill-Gvernijiet inkluż spejjeż tas-saħħa
relatati mat-tniġġiż fl-arja, filwaqt li l-familji Ewropej ikunu ffrankaw €41
biljun f'konsum.

 L-Autogas huwa diġà użat minn aktar minn 7
miljun karozza fl-Ewropa. Dan kollu jgħin ukoll fil-miri tat-tnaqqis
tal-gassijiet serra li l-Unjoni Ewropea fasslet li għandhom jintlaħqu sas-sena

 f'Awwissu 2010 f'pajjiżna ħarġu regolamenti li
jagħmlu possibbli l-bidla għall-karozza biex tkun tista' taħdem bl-Autogas. Din
tista' ssir minn persuni awtorizzati mill-Awtorità ta' Malta dwar ir-Riżorsi.
Fil-preżent huma 19-il kumpaniji li huma awtorizzati biex iwettqu dan
ix-xogħol. Id-dettalji ta' min jista' jwettaq dan ix-xogħol ikunu updated fuq
is-sit eletroniku tal-Awtorità ta' Malta dwar ir-Riżorsi