The Malta Federation of Professional Associations (MFPA) expressed its dismay that once again professionals who are not listed in Annex A or B cannot avail themselves of any of the government schemes announced on Monday 8 June, despite the fact that they have incurred financial losses during the past three months.
In a statement this morning, the MFPA said that “Professionals, especially those that are self-employed and employers still have had to pay rents and water and electricity bills despite the fact that their practices were either entirely closed or were obliged to drastically reduce the services they provided with the provision of basic emergency cover to assist very urgent cases.”
The MFPA carried out a survey in May about the current working conditions of professionals. This followed another survey carried out in April, to have a clearer picture of the difficulties professionals are facing in the current situation. The following are the most important points and facts that emerged from the 834 responses received by individual professionals. Although this survey was carried out a few weeks ago, data collected is still relevant since none of the most recently announced measures addressed the financial difficulties faced by professionals. Self-employed health professionals were the worst hit in all issues addressed by the survey.
- 4% of the total respondents were healthcare professionals.
- The sample was made of 78.3% respondents who come from MFPA MOs and 21.7% were from other professions.
- The survey comprised of several employment categories: 7% were employed (40.5% in the public sector and 15.2% within the private sector), 21.6% self-employed, 14.9% full time employed and also with part-time private practice while 5.1% were part-time employed (2.2% with the private sector & 2.9% within the public sector).
- 1% (52) of all respondents reported that they were made redundant during this period of Covid-19 situation. Of these 80.8% of these were health professionals while the rest were non-health related professionals. The absolute majority of these redundant professionals (62%) were self-employed. So again, self-employed health professionals were worst hit.
- 5% of those employed in the private sector claimed they felt that their job security was under threat.
- When asked about financial losses, 19.3% reported up to 25% loss, 10.4% up to 50% loss, 9.2% up to 75% loss and 6.4% total loss of income (100%). Within the category of total loss, 77.4% of them were self-employed health professionals.
- In the first survey, a staggering 9% of self-employed professionals had reported they suffered a financial loss with 70.3% of them reporting a loss of more than 50% of their usual income. In the second survey, 92.8% of the self-employed respondents reported a loss in April with 22.8% of them suffered total loss of their income, 40% between 90% and 75% and 30% of them suffering a loss of between 50% to 25% of their income.
- Financial packages announced by the government were not of help to 69% of those in full-time employment in the private sector and to 6% of the self-employed. Only 7.9 % of the self-employed were eligible. 66.7% of the employers were not eligible either.
Professionals as Employers
A very small percentage of the total respondents (2.7%) were employers who employ a mix of professionals as well as ancillary staff.
- 56% reported that their staff could be at risk of losing their job while 20% were definitely at risk.
- 64% of the employers were non-health related professionals.
Respondents were able to add additional comments. Several self-employed commented that their practice was drastically reduced placing them, their employees and families in strenuous conditions. Several also pointed out that they reduced their practice (even up to 90%) to abide by rules and follow guidelines issued by health authorities to ensure the safety of the general public, however to add insult to injury they were not eligible to apply for the €800/employee benefit like other sectors which had a similar or a lower reduction in activity.
Respondents represented various sectors including health, education, development and financial services. In each of these groups there were professionals who suffered losses and have or are not considered eligible for support or compensation even though they have been contributing to the country’s economy like other sectors.
MFPA calls for the government to take into account these facts reported by professionals and address them while fine tuning the measures announced on Monday. The scope of the incentives should be widened to include affected professionals.
This statement was endorsed by member organisations of MFPA: Association of Podiatrists of Malta, Association of Speech-Language Pathologists, Chamber of Engineers, Dental Association of Malta, Kamra tal-Periti, Malta Association for the Counselling Profession, Medical Association of Malta, Malta Association of Occupational Therapists, Malta Association of Physiotherapists, Malta Association of Professional Conservators and Restorers, Maltese Association of Social Workers, Maltese Association of Youth Workers, Malta Chamber of Pharmacists, Malta Chamber of Psychologists, Malta Institute of Accountants, Malta Veterinary Association and Society of Medical Radiographers.