Have you ever seen a job ad that promises “full social benefits” (“תנאים סוציאליים מלאים”) as a perk the company offers? These ads irk us to no end and are even a potential red flag.
Because the company isn’t doing you a favor by giving you these benefits. Israeli law requires them to give them to you. They’re just hoping you don’t know that. And since this is their selling point to make the job attractive, you probably shouldn’t expect anything more than the minimum employee benefits.
Knowledge is power.
Knowing your rights and being able to advocate for yourself is an incredible skill that will protect you in the workforce. Not only will you be able to ensure that you receive all of the benefits afforded to you by law, knowing the base line will empower you to negotiate even better terms. In the event that you didn’t know better and agreed to forgo one of these things in your contract, that line is null and void and wouldn’t hold up in Israeli court.
So what are your rights? While the list below is in no way exhaustive, Israeli employees are entitled to everything on this list.
- Minimum wage is 5,300 a month on a 42 hour work week and 182 work month or 29.12 per hour.
- Overtime – Anything after nine hours of work (including lunch break) is considered overtime and needs to be paid overtime pay. Did you know that by law you are not allowed to work more than 12 hrs a day or more than 16 hrs of overtime a week? And if you worked at least two hours past 10pm or 2 hours before 6 am, your overtime pay starts after seven hours of work.
- Vacation days – If you work a five day work week, you are entitled to a minimum of twelve days of vacation per year for the first four years at a company. The minimum increases incrementally after that. You can always negotiate for more.
- Sick leave – You get 18 per year at minimum. Legally you don’t have to be paid for the first day (though people are working to change this). Days two and three are paid at 50% and days four and onward are paid in full. Many employers pay sick leave from day one and it is definitely something worth negotiating for.
- Kids’ sick leave – As of 2016, child sick time is counted according to the child’s illness and not according to the days the parent takes off. This means that if your spouse stayed home on day one, and you stayed home on day two, you are entitled to 50% payment for that day.
- Election day – Knesset Election Day is a legal holiday in Israel. Provided that you have been employed for at least two weeks and would have been scheduled to work that day, it is a paid day off. Aside from voting, what are your plans for this November 1?
- Havra’a – In Israel’s early days, all employees received a few days per year of R&R at a state sponsored resort. In the decades since, the socialist resorts disappeared, but the budget remained. It’s even still calculated in ‘days’ and calculated at 378 shekels per day. Unfortunately it doesn’t come with any extra vacation days to use for that vacation. Most Israeli employees see it in their pay slip sometime during the summer months. After a year with your employer, you should get five days. After three years, you get six and after four years, it goes up to seven days.
- Retirement savings account (“Pensia”) – Israeli law mandates employee and employer contributions to your private pension plan. Every month, every paycheck. No opting out. Check your pension account occasionally to make sure your employer is depositing their portion.
- Rights when leaving your job – There are a bunch of goodies here.
- If you are fired or laid off, your employer must first summon you to a hearing (‘shimuah’) where you can present your case for why you believe you should stay. You must be given advanced notice to prepare, you may bring someone with you, and you may record the hearing.
- If you have been let go, or if you decide to quit, the initiating party must give notice when ending the employee/employer relationship. If you’ve been there less than a year, it’s a matter of days, but if you’ve been there over a year, you will continue to be employed for a month after either side gives notice. Some employers may let you leave earlier and pay you the full month.
- As of 2008, it has become common for employers to add your future severance pay to your pension account on a monthly basis. This has become a significant component of retirement savings in Israel. While you may withdraw this money, when you leave a job, your future self will greatly appreciate it if you leave it there and let it grow through the magic of compound interest. Check your contract and make sure it includes Section 14 (‘Seif 14’). This is huge.
- When you leave your job, your employer must pay you any unused vacation days and havra’a that you have not collected. Unused sick days can’t be redeemed.
- Fertility, pregnancy and parental rights –
- Pregnant women receive an extra 40 hours of paid sick time for medical appointments. As of a few years ago, women undergoing fertility treatments are entitled to the same 40 hours as well. Your spouse can use their own sick time to accompany you to appointments. It is illegal for employers to fire women who are pregnant or undergoing fertility treatment unless they receive approval from a special government committee.
- Once you give birth, you are entitled to paid leave. Provided that you were employed (and paying Bituach Leumi) ten out of the past 14 months or 15 out of the last 22 months prior to giving birth, you qualify for 15 weeks of paid maternity leave, calculated according to your current salary. If you were employed 6 out of the last 14 months you are entitled to 8 weeks of paid leave. Your employer must hold your position for you for up to 26 weeks and may not fire you for two months after your return. As maternity leave pay is transferred as one lump sum, we recommend putting it aside in a short term savings account (pakam) and paying yourself monthly from there. If you are planning to take more than 15 weeks off, you might want to build up a slush fund in advance to cover the extra quality time with your newborn.
- Tax credits – Each tax credit you are entitled to puts another 223 shekels back into your tlush (pay slip) each month. By virtue of being an employed resident of Israel, you are entitled to 2.25 tax credits if you are a man or 2.75 if you are a woman. There are all sorts of additional tax credits for parents of young children, recent olim, recent graduates, residents of certain peripheral regions, and more. This is all calculated according to what you filled out in your 101 form when starting a job or at the beginning of each tax year, so make sure you fill it out accurately.
This is just a short list of your rights as an Israeli employee. There is a wonderful site called Kol Zchut that lists all of your rights and is available in English. Check it out!
Do you know how to read and understand your pay slip (tlush)? Understanding it is another way to make sure that you are receiving everything you are entitled to. We’ll delve into that in a near future post. But for now, if there is something you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask your HR department.
What employee rights would you like to learn more about? Let us know and we’ll make sure to cover them in a future post.
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