The number of Gozitan civil servants working from home has grown over the past years despite the size of the island, data tabled in Parliament shows.
More than 100 Gozo Ministry employees were granted permission to work from home this year, more than double the amount five years ago.
According to the data, furnished by Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana in reply to a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Chris Said, 2017, an election year, marked a significant surge in the number of civil servants granted permission to work from their homes.
While, in 2013, there were 44 Gozo Ministry staff members providing their services through teleworking, the number grew to 90 last year.
The figures show that many of those given the green light to telework are in the upper grades of the civil service, with responsibilities varying from senior principals to officers in Grade 5, equivalent to an assistant director. They are either middle-aged or over 50 years old.
Everyone in Gozo knows what happened before the last election
Observers noted that teleworking was usually prevalent among those in lower grades and rather young, mainly because of children.
The minister also said that tens of Gozo Ministry officials were either working on reduced hours or had a “flexible schedule of work”.
Gozo Ministry sources told the Times of Malta that although in many cases the flexible working conditions were justified, one could not exclude the possibility that they could be “political favours.”
“Everyone in Gozo knows what happened before the last election, when the private sector was basically depleted from human resources,” a senior ministry official said, insisting on anonymity.
Reports of tens of workers from the private sector who are being recruited in government departments and state entities, particularly Gozo Channel, were rampant before the last election.
Private entities had even complained with this newspaper they did not have enough employees to give a proper service because many had joined the government.
For the first time since Malta’s independence, Gozo turned red last year, with Labour obtaining the majority of votes there. After the election, the Prime Minister appointed Dr Caruana as Gozo Minister and her predecessor, Anton Refalo, who Gozo sources insisted was still very popular, was named chairman of Heritage Malta, the State agency responsible for the management of museums and historic sites.
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