The Histadrut and the Israeli Presidency of Business Organizations, an umbrella organization representing Israel’s business sector, signed an agreement earlier this month to ensure payment of wages to workers who missed work following the onset of Israel’s war against Hamas on October 7. The agreement applies to workers who were evacuated from their homes under directives from Israel’s Home Front Command, as well as those living in what were defined as 'special areas' in the property tax and compensation fund regulations. It also covers workers who have missed time in order to provide childcare. Since the beginning of the war, over 100,000 Israelis have been evacuated from communities in close proximity to the Gaza Strip or to Israel’s border with Lebanon.
The agreement was submitted to Labor Minister Yoav Ben Tzur for his approval. Ben Tzur must now sign an extension order that will make the agreement binding for the entire Israeli economy. Under the agreement, workers will be entitled to the daily wage that would have been paid to them if they had worked normally throughout the period in question. Employers in turn will receive compensation from the state in accordance with property tax regulations. The money will be transferred on the first salary payment date after the Minister of Labor signs the extension order.
The agreement also applies to workers who were employed in educational institutions that were closed due to directives of the Home Front Command or the local government, employees who were absent in order to supervise their children due to the closure of educational institutions in their place of residence (including foster parents), and employees with disabilities whose place of work or residence is in the 'special area'. Disabled applicants will receive compensation as long as their disability is known to the employer or if they have provided the employer with a medical certificate, and if their disability prevented them from either arriving to or being present at their workplace.
Similar to compensation mechanisms established in light of previous military operations, the agreement also includes a section dealing with the rights of parents of children with special needs. Any employee who is a parent or guardian of a person with a disability will be entitled to compensation, to the extent that they were absent from work for the purpose of supervising the child.
Unlike previous agreements, the current agreement also provides a solution for employees who were placed on sick leave by their employer due to the security situation and allows these employees to submit a request for the payment of wages for days of absence due to the security situation. This addendum is subject to additional evaluation which will be arranged between the Tax Authority and the National Insurance Institute. It will also provide compensation to employers in such cases. The agreement currently applies only to work days missed in the month of October, but it will likely be extended to cover November and December.
The agreement will be submitted to Rivka Werbner, the chief labor relations officer in the Economy Ministry’s Directorate General of Labor. There, it will be registered as a nationwide collective bargaining agreement, after which the Minister of Labor may issue an extension order making the agreement legally binding.
The chairman of the Histadrut, Arnon Bar-David, said that "the agreement provides a response to the unique needs that arose during the war and establishes a safety net for the populations that suffered the greatest economic damage. We will continue to protect the workers while showing national responsibility and concern for the robustness and functioning of the economy, even during this period of emergency."
Chairman of the Israeli Presidency of Business Organizations Dubi Amitai stated "this is another layer in the framework of steps taken by the Presidency of Business Organizations in order to regulate the compensation to which employers are entitled due to the damages caused to them as a result of the war. The Presidency of Business Organizations under my leadership will continue to work for the business sector, whose continued activity is part of the war effort."
This article was translated from Hebrew by Etz Greenfeld.