Employers of Palestinian workers will be required to insure them in Israeli health insurance. In a legislation amendment approved on May 4, 2020 (Monday) in the government, it was decided that the employers would insure the workers, since they are forced to spend an extended time in Israel, due to the movement restrictions | The conditions of residence were also defined in special regulations and authorization of supervisors for the subject was decided.
On May 4, 2020 (Monday), the government approved a legislative amendment that requires the employers of Palestinian construction, agriculture and industrial workers, needed to stay continuously in Israel due to the Corona crisis, to insure them in Israeli health insurance. The amendment ensures that Palestinian workers can receive health care in Israel when needed.
According to the emergency regulations, Palestinians who come to work in Israel are required to stay in Israel for three consecutive weeks, without the possibility of returning to their home. Legislative regulations were also determined for health and lodging conditions in a way that will allow the return of thousands of the required workers to the construction sector in Israel. At the end of March, the Knesset's Welfare and Labor Committee demanded that the matter be regulated, and the Kav LaOved, Association for Civil Rights, and Physicians for Human Rights organizations petitioned the High Court demanding that it will be implemented.
The living conditions currently defined in the regulations forbid to lodge more than six workers in a room and stipulate that you must provide each worker with personal space of at least 4 square meters, a bed, bedding, and blankets. The accommodations must be ventilated, separated from the workplace in a way that protects workers from physical hazards and accidents. Also, they must include a sink and stove for every nine workers, kitchenware in the necessary amount, and a refrigerator – except in cases where the employer is the one providing the workers' meals. In the building, you must provide a room or place designated for eating with a separate seat for each worker. Furthermore, employers are required to provide lighting, electricity, bathroom, showers with hot water sufficient for the number of workers, washing machines, a supply of drinking water and sewerage, and to take care of clearing sanitation hazards.
The regulations also specify that during the Corona period, government employees who are inspectors on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Construction and Housing will be authorized to assist in the supervision and to enforce the regulations. These are additional inspectors to the existing inspectors of the Ministry of Labor and Administration of Population that is already authorized to supervise and implement the fulfillment of the obligations to an employer of a foreign worker by law.
"The issue of regulating the Palestinian workers' conditions was coordinated with us, and I am glad that the contractors accepted most of the State's requirements to allow the entry of migrant workers. It was requested that workers who come to work in Israel receive at least medical insurance," Chairman of the Construction and Wood Workers Union-Histadrut, Itzik Moyal, said to Davar. "We are in contact with the Palestinian workers who arrive and provide them with protective gear – masks and gloves. Together with the joint safety headquarters, we also go to check the workers' residence and make sure it meets the standards set by the Ministry of Health. In this period, it is most important to us that the workers feel that they have an address. Every problem that will exist, we will do everything we can to help them."
"An important step to return the construction sites to full activity"
"The continuation of the construction sector's activity is critical to the economy and the Israeli economy, and therefore from the beginning, we defined it as an essential sector," said the Minister of Construction and Housing, Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton. "The outline for returning the Palestinian workers led by the Ministry of Construction and Housing is an important step to return the construction sites to full activity, alongside supervision and inspection of their mode of stay in Israel and their accommodation under proper social conditions." Director-General of the Ministry of Construction and Housing, Elazar Bamberger: "The legislative amendment is a critical step in continuing the activity in the construction sector while maintaining the workers' rights. The legislation anchors the State's ability to enforce the health and safety instructions in the construction sites, in favor of preserving the public's health, in general, and workers' health, in particular.
Netanel Lapidot, Deputy Director-General of Strategy and Policy in the Ministry, added: "To ensure the continuation of regular activity in the construction sector, we were required to adapt the manner of employing the Palestinian workers to the 'new normal.' The entry process, which is accompanied by medical insurance, lodging conditions, and social aspects, constitutes a significant step in this time that will ensure the continuation of regular activity in the industry."
During routine days, when Palestinian workers return to their homes in the territories every day, they are insured in the National Insurance in Israel for work accidents that happened in Israel. A mechanism for regulating health services in the Palestinian Authority for Palestinian workers employed in Israel and their families was established, in exchange for deducting health insurance fees ("health stamp") from the wages of Palestinian workers, who moved via the State of Israel to the Palestinian Authority. The legislative amendment does not detract from the employer's obligation to continue paying the health stamp amounts, to ensure that the worker's rights in the routine are not harmed.
The Minister of Defense announced the lockdown of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip area on March 18 following the spread of the Coronavirus in Israel. The limited entry and stay in Israel of Palestinian workers from the West Bank who are legally employed in Israel in the agriculture, construction, industry and services sectors, were excluded from it, subject to the approval of their lodging in Israel – which is granted by the Civil Administration in the West Bank. These accommodation permits are issued for 30 and 60 days in the agriculture and construction sectors for the Corona period during the entire stay and accommodation period of the Palestinian worker in Israel, without giving him the possibility to return to the area. If he chooses to return to his home, he will not be allowed to enter back into Israel until the end of the Corona crisis period in Israel.
Brought to press with the help of the International Relations Division of the Histadrut