Worker's rights in Israel
By Eli Lichtenstein
Whether you’re an employee or employer in Israel, knowing the relevant regulations on employment ensures the law is followed correctly and the rights of workers are respected. A summary of these rules is presented here.
Minimum wage is mandated for all workers, although it varies by the number of hours and days worked. For workers on a daily wage, those employed five days a week must be paid at least 244.62 NIS per day, and for those working six days a week at least 212.00 NIS per day. For those paid on an hourly basis, employees working up to 182 hours a month must be paid 29.12 NIS/hour, and those working up to 186 hours a month must be paid 28.49 NIS/hour. By any calculation, the minimum monthly wage for a full-time worker should add up to approximately 5,300.00 NIS.
For a five-day workweek, regular working hours encompass no more than 8.6 hours/day for four days, and 7.6 hours/day for the fifth day. For those on a six-day workweek, regular hours are up to 8 hours/day, totaling no more than 42 hours a week. Beyond 42 hours, overtime pay is required, with 125% of normal pay for the first two hours of overtime and 150% normal pay for every hour after that. In addition, weekend and night (after 23:00) pay are 150% of regular pay.
Vacation time and holidays
All workers are entitled to paid vacation time, the specifics of which depend on a number of factors. Employees must work at least 200 days (including paid sick days) a year to receive full vacation benefits. Those working a six-day workweek are entitled to between 14 and 24 days off from work per year, depending on seniority, and those on a five day workweek between 12 and 23 days per year. Employees can take additional unpaid vacation days with the employer’s consent. An employee may take a single unscheduled day off without permission, provided that general notice has been given at least one month prior. Additionally, most workers are legally entitled to 36 consecutive hours off on weekends.
Employees are also entitled to paid leave for nine religious holidays a year, which is not counted as vacation time. Employees not working on holidays must still receive 100% of their normal salary, and those working on holidays are paid 250% of their normal salary.
Pension and severance fund
An employee 21 or older who has worked for at least 3-6 months is entitled to a pension and severance funds. Both the employee and employer contribute to the employee’s pension. Usually, the employee pays 6% of the wage and the employer 6.5%. Those who are self-employed must also contribute to a pension fund.
In addition, the employer must pay 6% of the gross wage to the employee’s severance fund. Employees who are fired without cause must be paid at least one month’s wages for every year they were employed. A fired employee also receives pay for all unused paid vacation days of that year.
Workers 18 and older are required to have health insurance, payment of which is deducted by the employer from the employee’s paycheck. The exact payment is determined by the employee’s wage relative to the average wage (calculated yearly by the National Insurance Institute). Employees making under 60% of the average wage pay 3.10% of their wage to health insurance, while employees making more pay 5.00%, up to 43,370 NIS. Self-employed workers must make payments directly to the National Insurance Institute.
Severance hearing (Shimuah)
An employer is required to hold a hearing with an employee before firing said employee. The employee must be provided notification one or more days before the hearing in order to adequately prepare it. The employer must inform the employee of the reasons for termination and consider the counterarguments of the employee in good faith. Also, full-time workers who have been employed for at least a year must receive at least one month’s notice before termination.
Convalescence pay (Demei Havraa)
Demei Havraa is a required annual payment to all part- and full-time employees who have worked for at least one year. The money can be used by the employee for any purpose. The payment is set by day, with employees receiving a multiple of the day’s pay based on seniority. For full-time workers, the minimum pay is 378 NIS per day for private sector employees and 429 NIS per day for public sector employees. Employees who have worked for 1 year receive five days of Demei Havraa pay (1890 NIS for the private sector); for 2-3 years six days; for 4-10 years seven days; for 11-15 years eight days; for 16-19 years nine days; for 20+ years ten days.
Sick days eligible for sick pay are accrued based on the duration of employment. Employees receive 1.5 paid sick days for every month worked under the employer. For the first eligible sick day, employees do not receive pay. On the second and third days, sick pay is 50% of the normal wage, and this rises to 100% of normal wage for every day after that. After the exhaustion of sick days, employees are no longer entitled to sick pay, although they may request additional leave without pay.
Travel reimbursement (Nisius)
Employees are entitled to reimbursements for all travel expenses to and from work, up to a maximum of 22.60 NIS per day. Only the least expensive transportation method is required to be reimbursed, and any travel not directly to and from work is not required to be covered.
All employees are entitled to maternity or paternity leave to some extent. Women who have been employed for at least a year can take 26 weeks of maternity leave, and women who worked for less than a year can take 15 weeks of maternity leave. Up to seven of those weeks can be taken before the anticipated birth date. Some of the maternity leave time can instead be used for paternity leave, starting six weeks after birth. One week of paternity leave can occur simultaneously with the maternity leave.
Maternity pay can be required for some or all of the maternity leave. The amount and duration of pay depend on a number of factors, including for how long National Insurance payments were made before the maternity leave. The maximum possible maternity pay is 1,485.83 NIS per day.