practice area articles
By Ben Sandler and Ira Evental
Back to International Employment Law
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2020
Changes to the working environment
Israel has been without a functioning Government for some time now and as such, no new legislation has been implemented. However, there has been more focus and awareness on the following trends:
- Increased awareness regarding a proper working environment — specifically, more focus on preventing sexual and other harassment claims, bullying, etc.
- More openness to "alternative" lifestyles in the workplace—increasing interest and use of parental time off (rather than just maternity leave), express policies being adopted about tolerance for
non-traditionalfamily, gender issues, etc.
- Increased interest and thought going into alternative working arrangements (including remote working) and what this means from an employer's perspective in terms of compensation, reimbursement of infrastructure costs, supervision and monitoring, and working hours.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2019
Increased paternity/spouse rights
Under Israeli law, mothers have traditionally been provided with protection and paid maternity leave on the birth and adoption of a child. Parental and paternity rights have also been introduced and there has been significant interest by companies and employees in such rights in recent years.
More companies are adopting express policies with respect to parental rights to paid and unpaid leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child, and these rights also apply to same-sex families. From 1 August 2018, where there are multiple births, the husband is entitled to take up to two weeks of leave for each additional infant (of which at least seven days must be consecutive) in place of the mother, with her consent. However companies will often provide additional days in excess of the legal framework.
Reorganization of the work week
The standard work week in Israel is now 5 days, running from Sunday to Thursday, which is linked to the personal day of rest designated for the majority of the workforce (based on their personal status, by which they are designated as ”Jewish” regardless of their actual practice and beliefs). Since the Jewish religion forbids work or transport during the Sabbath, observant Jewish employees do not have a day off during which places of business are open.
Discussions are ongoing to rearrange the work week so that Sunday becomes a day of rest once a month or once every two months, and to add a short work day on Friday of that same week. In the context of this re-shuffling, a law has been passed to shorten the work week from 43 to 42 hours. However, since the weekly limitation of 15 overtime hours was increased to 16 hours, the change did not result in any significant change of work habits, but does provide a minor financial benefit for employees when their daily or hourly compensation is being calculated (for instance, for redemption of vacation days upon termination).
Proposals to amend work visa process
Currently, a work visa can be obtained for persons with special expertise, which can be difficult to establish, or for people who have the right to receive citizenship in Israel (i.e. have the right to emigrate to Israel because of their Jewish family connections). For the past few years there has been an increase in the number of Israelis relocating abroad for work, especially in the high-tech industry, but conversely a smaller influx of employees, mainly due to the complicated and adverse visa process. The Ministry announced an overhaul of the process at the beginning of 2018 with the aim of streamlining the process of granting visas, however there has not been a significant change in the actual practice so far. This is a matter of national concern as it impacts the viability of the talent scarce technology sector.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2018
The Privacy Protection Authority published guidelines in October 2017 restricting the operation of surveillance cameras in the workplace to use which complies with requirements of reasonableness, proportionality, fairness and good faith, and which is carried out for legitimate purposes. In addition, prior to the installment of the cameras, an employer must formulate a clear and detailed surveillance camera policy, present it to the employees and obtain their formal consent. Furthermore, an employer’s use of hidden cameras or obtaining footage of employees without their knowledge is strictly forbidden.
In another development, the National Labor Court ruled that due to privacy concerns, employers cannot require employees to provide their fingerprints for monitoring attendance on a biometric device and an employee must grant free and informed consent to its employer before an employee’s fingerprints are utilized for such purpose.
Increase to Minimum Wage
As part of the gradual increase in the minimum wage, on December 1, 2017, the monthly minimum wage in Israel was increased to NIS 5,300.
Extension of Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave
An amendment to the Employment of Women Law 1954 extended the term of paid maternity leave for female employees from 14 weeks to 15 weeks from the date of the birth. Pursuant to the Amendment, a female employee may allow her spouse/partner to take this 15th week of paid leave in her place.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2017
Increase to employer and employee pension contributions
As of January 2017, employees will contribute 6% of their monthly salary to their preferred pension arrangement and employers will contribute at least 6.5% of the employee’s monthly salary to the employees’ pension arrangements in addition to the mandatory severance payment contributions.
Increase to annual vacation days
Following an Amendment to the Annual Leave Law, as of January 2017 the minimum vacation day entitlement for full time employees in their first four years of employment is 12 days.
Increase to national minimum wage
As part of the gradual increase in the minimum wage, as of January 2017 the minimum wage in Israel will be NIS 5,000.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2016
New rights for parents to be paid when absent due to a child’s illness
In March 2016, an amendment to the Sick Pay Law (Absence due to Child’s Illness) 1993 changed the rules regarding circumstances in which an employee may be entitled to receive sick pay due to a child’s illness. As of April 2016, employees who are absent from work when their child suffers from a disease that requires routine dialysis treatment or when a child suffers from any other disease to be determined by the government will be entitled to sick pay.
In August 2016, another amendment was published pursuant to which employees are entitled to receive full sick pay on the first day of absence due to their child’s illness.
New rights for fathers regarding paternity leave
An amendment to the Employment of Women Law 1954 granted a male employee up to five days leave after the day his spouse/partner has given birth without the need to obtain the employer’s consent and a daily hour of paternity leave after their spouse/partner has given birth for a period of up to four months following the maternity leave.
Reduction of transportation allowance
In August 2016, the Minister of Welfare and Social Services issued an extension order pursuant to which the maximum daily amount that an employee is entitled to receive from an employer for transportation expenses was reduced from NIS 26.40 to NIS 22.60.