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Private Sector Social Workers to Receive Extra 6,000 Shekels in Expansion of Collective Agreement

Last year’s public sector salary agreement to be extended to some privately employed social workers | Labor Minister Ben-Tzur: "It’s the least of the appreciation and recognition we owe them for their dedicated work for the citizens of Israel"

הפגנת העובדות הסוציאליות בכיכר רבין (צילום: נבט כהנא)
Participants at a demonstration in support of social workers hold a sign saying that “a strong society requires strong social work” (Photo: Nevet Kahana)
By Hadas Yom Tov

Labor Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur has signed an order to expand an existing salary agreement for public sector workers to include social workers who provide services to the state through private contractors. The original agreement was signed between the Histadrut and the government last April, and it ensures that public sector employees will receive an across-the-board wage increase with an average value of about 11%. With the new expansion, social workers in privatized services will enjoy the same benefits as their colleagues in civil service, local authorities and public bodies. The order requires private employers to pay the benefits of the agreement and obligates the state to compensate them.

The decree, which went into force on March 1, includes a one-time grant of 6,000 shekels ($1,650) for those who worked full-time prior to the signing of the agreement. A monthly 400 shekels ($111) supplement will be given, and salaries will increase in increments until 2027. The work week will also be shortened which will increase the value of their hours worked as well. The order also gives workers  extra days off, though at the cost of losing their mandated vacation for Passover 2024.

This is the third time that the government has extended a collective agreement of social workers in the public sector to those in privatized services, addressing the potential danger of inferior conditions which often occurs in the privatization of these services. The first time was in 2017, and the second in 2021 after signing of the ‘Hesseg’ (‘Achievement') reform. Now, for the first time, social workers in privatized services will receive the same supplements stipulated in the general agreement for public sector workers.

Minister of Labor Yoav Ben-Tzur said upon signing the expansion order:

"In routine and emergency situations, the burden placed on the shoulders of social workers is enormous, especially in times of war. Providing salary benefits for them is the least of the appreciation and recognition we owe them for their dedicated work for the citizens of Israel."

Welfare Minister Ya’akov Margi added:

"The dedicated work of the social workers all year round and especially in times of emergency, as we have seen since the outbreak of the war, deserves recognition and appreciation and I thank Minister Ben-Tzur for making the wonderful decision to reward them."

Alongside the expansion order, the Union of Social Workers recently demanded that the Ministry of Finance advance the payment of the second instalment from the 2022 wage agreement – approximately 200 million shekels ($55 million). Half of this sum was originally supposed to come into effect at the end of 2024 and half at the end of 2025.

The Union justified their demand by arguing there is an urgent need to recruit more social workers due to the war. At a hearing in the Labor and Welfare Committee of the Knesset last week, finance officials refused to bear the cost of the advance and suggested that the Histadrut finance it by diverting funds from other sections of the budget or finance it from other budgets that were included in the agreement signed before the war and were earmarked for other workers.

This article was translated from Hebrew by Ronen Cohen.

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