Those earning the minimum wage in Malta are likely to suffer material rejection
Across Europe, minimum wage workers are much more likely to live in materially deprived families, but that percentage is higher in Malta than in most other EU Member States, particularly those with considerably higher minimum wages.
Data published by Eurofound, an EU agency for improving living and working conditions, show that 15% of those earning the minimum wage in the EU live in materially deprived families, compared to ‘6% among the rest of the employees.
However in Malta the same data show that 21% of those earning the minimum wage in Malta live in materially deprived families, compared to only 5% among the rest of the employees.
Material deprivation is defined as enforced inability, rather than the option not to do so, to pay unexpected expenses, afford a one-week annual vacation away from home, a meal involving meat, chicken or fish every second day. , adequate heating of a dwelling, durable goods such as a washing machine, color television, telephone or car, which are faced with arrears of payment on a mortgage or rent, utility bills, or loans: goods considered by many people to be desirable or even necessary to live an adequate life.
Across countries, the number of employees affected by material deprivation in the home varies widely: from more than 20% in several Member States of Central and Eastern Europe (Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Croatia), Greece and Malta, to below 10% in the Benelux countries and Germany.
While in Greece over 45% of minimum wage earners live in material deprivation, in Luxembourg and the Netherlands only about 5% of workers in the same category live in material deprivation.
This suggests that countries with a higher minimum wage have the lowest percentage of such workers living in poverty. Luxembourg, for example, has a minimum monthly wage of € 2209 and the Netherlands a minimum wage of € 1685 compared to Malta’s € 785.
Material deprivation encompasses the homeowner’s ability to afford various items deemed desirable to enjoy adequate living standards, such as being able to pay rent, keep the home warm, face unexpected expenses, go on vacation, and having a washing machine.
The Eurofound study also shows that across Europe women are over-represented in the minimum wage bracket.
This is reflected in a higher percentage of minimum wage earners among female employees (8.7%) than among male employees (5%), and women account for more than 60% of those employed. earn the minimum wage. In contrast in Malta, just under 50% of those earning the minimum wage are women but still find a higher percentage among female employees (5%) than among men (4%).
In almost every Member State, more than half of the total number of minimum wage earners are women – in some countries, this rate reaches two thirds, for example in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Latvia. This is because women are more likely to work in these sectors and the lowest paid jobs.
In 2019, around 7% of employees in the EU were the ones earning the statutory minimum wage – that is, earning no more than 10% above or below the minimum wage rate in each Member State. Across the country, this rate varies from 10-15% in several Member States of Central and Eastern Europe (Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and Lithuania) and Portugal to less than 4% in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Slovenia. In Malta about 5% of workers fall into this category.