Histadrut Chairman, Arnon Bar-David, and Treasury Wages Commissioner, Kobi Bar-Nathan, signed an agreement stipulating the public sector’s return to work. According to the agreement, public sector workers are to have returned to full-time work by yesterday (Sunday), May 3. The return to work must meet the strict ‘purple badge’ health standard, and workers whose return does not guarantee sufficiently meeting the standard will remain at home and receive 80 percent of their wages, 12.5 percent of which will be considered an advance payment that will be returned over a period of 10 months following their eventual return to work.
According to the agreement, in order to enable the swift return to work of as many workers as possible, the Histadrut will permit the government, in light of exceptional circumstances, to practice employee relocation and introduce shift work for the limited period of the agreement, until the end of June. The agreement also includes a mechanism for settling disputes, involving the participation of a representative of the Treasury Wages Commissioner and a representative of the Chairman of the Trade Union Division in the Histadrut, along with, if necessary, a representative of the Local Authorities.
At the time of the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in March, a collective agreement between the Histadrut, the government and the Local Authorities determined that public sector workers in positions not classified as ‘essential’ would remain on paid leave at the expense of their accumulated vacation days. In mid-April, an additional agreement was signed that determined that the employers would bear half of the cost of the leave until the end of the month. The current agreement transfers the payment of wages for workers who will not return to work solely to the employers.
The Histadrut Chairman, Arnon Bar-David, in reference to the agreement said, "This agreement is a significant step towards restoring routine and also an increase in the extent to which the state is providing the public with answers in these times. We have ensured the responsible return to regular work of public sector’s workers, while spreading a safety net in order to continue to protect the rights of the few workers who, at this stage, are still unable to return to their jobs. We won't leave anyone behind."
The Treasury Wages Commissioner, Kobi Bar-Nathan said, "The new agreement creates a mechanism with enough flexibility for employers in the public sector. It allows for an expansion of the services provided to the public as through increasing the number of workers returning to work. At the same time, it provides an answer to those workers who can't currently be employed. I appreciate the Histadrut Chairman for his devotion to the collective process by which we reached this agreement."
Chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel, Haim Bibas, also commented on the agreement: "The Federation of Local Authorities continues to care for its workers and provide them with job security with a new collective agreement that will provide a comprehensive answer to the current situation. The agreement applies to workers who are not expected to return to the workforce soon due to the current restrictions, and ensures their continued earnings almost entirely."