SME Chamber

GRTU urges Government to avoid limits in freedom of enterprise in Transport Working Time

GRTU has written to Hon Chris Said as the Ministry responsible for Working Time and the Hon Austin Gatt as the Ministry Responsible for Transport to support the self employed and enterprise in view of the unfortunate vote taken by MEP's earlier this month, rejecting the European Commission's proposal for a revised Directive on transport working time.

MEPs rejected a reasonable proposal and went ahead with a stubborn, short-sighted attempt to apply one-size-fits-all rules to a very diverse set of drivers. This is disproportionate and counterproductive. Unless we make some kind of objection, self-employed drivers will be subject to the same rules on working time as those applied to staff drivers.


The rules applied to employees are designed for labour relations between the workforce and employers. They should not be imposed on self-employed workers, whose private and work lives are by definition intertwined. Applying the same legislation across the board limits freedom of enterprise and may pave the way for similar restrictions in other sectors. This will limit small entrepreneurs' freedom to organise their work according to business needs and will set an unacceptable precedent in EU legislation by applying major labour laws conceived for employees to entrepreneurs.

Claims that the inclusion of self-employed workers will benefit road safety are unfounded as all drivers, whatever their employment status, are already subject to the strict existing EU rules on driving time thanks to the digital tachograph and rest and leave periods during which workers are not allowed to undertake any type of work, be it driving, loading or unloading. Fully enforcing these rules rather than adding new constraints is the way ahead. Imposing new constraints on entrepreneurs goes blatantly against all initiatives undertaken to reduce red tape for SMEs and foster entrepreneurship.

Through our representatives at EU level we are already urging the Commission not to withdraw its current proposal, which is a balanced solution to tackle the problem of false self-employed drivers while respecting the needs of genuine entrepreneurs. The original proposal by the Commission carried a comprehensive definition of bogus self-employed drivers, with a clear distinction between independent self-employed drivers, who are free to organise their entrepreneurial activities, and "false independents", who would be more easily identified and subject to the same rules applied to staff drivers. Applying the measures currently in place to the self-employed would be unenforceable.

For all these reasons, GRTU has urged both Ministries to support our position on behalf of self-employed and enterprise in all talks and Malta's position on the subject. Accepting the Parliament's vote would limit freedom of enterprise, increase red tape and send a worrying signal to European small entrepreneurs.

We expressed that we trust Government will do its utmost not to let this happen and will work for SMEs rather than against them. As far as we are informed the Commission is to consult Member States on how the current systems are applied including to self-employed workers and how they check compliance.


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