The field of labour law and labour relations is characterised by frequent and challenging developments both in legislation and labor court rulings. Last year, as in previous years, provided much interest, with challenging new developments that may require recognition and implementation by employers. So what happened over the past year?
An extension order was signed to shorten the working week in Israel. Under the order, the working week was shortened by one hour, from 43 hours per week to 42 hours. The shortening of the work week has raised many questions, some of which still remain unanswered.
A new general permit was signed regarding employees working overtime. It permits employees to work up to 16 overtime hours per week. For employees who carry out night work, the maximum length of the work week is 58 hours (including overtime).
New legislative amendments to the Hours of Work and Rest Law, 5711-1951 were published, stipulating, amongst other things, that an employee may carry out night work for one week in every two weeks, and that generally any employee, whether or not he or she is religious, may refuse to work on the weekly rest day.
Monthly salary payments
It was held that an employment agreement can provide that the monthly salary of an employee who is not a monthly employee may be paid for one-month periods that are not necessarily calendar months. However the salary payment must be made within nine days after the end of the agreed month. Salary that is not paid by then is considered to be ‘delayed wages’.
New rules have been established regarding the withdrawal of severance funds from an employee’s pension arrangement by the employer. This continues the trend of reducing the employer’s ability to withdraw amounts accumulated in the severance fund, even where the employee is not entitled to severance pay. In addition, it was held that an employee may choose a pension product without incapacity for work insurance and the employer is prohibited from intervening in this decision.
As of November 2018, new default funds were selected by the Commissioner of the Capital Market, Insurance and Savings. From this time, an employer that engages a new employee who does not notify the employer of his or choice of insurance provider and wishes to manage his or her own pension arrangements, is required to insure the employee in one of the new default funds (or alternatively to conduct an independent competitive process to choose a fund to be used as a default fund). It should be clarified that choosing the new default funds does not change the terms of the arrangements of employees who joined the previous default funds.
The ‘birth and parenting period’ (formerly known as maternity leave) of the spouse or partner of an employee who has given birth to more than one child, has been extended by at least seven days (and up to two weeks), out of the three weeks given to the mother under these circumstances. This leave is taken by the partner instead of the mother and with her consent.
Leave for fertility treatment
In January 2019, an amendment to the Employment of Women Law 5714 – 1954 was published that provides, amongst other things, that male and female employees who are entitled to be absent from work for fertility treatment using sick leave days, can also take into account partial days of absence, up to a limit of 40 hours of absence per year. For part-time employees, the quota of hours is calculated in proportion to the amount they work. Sick pay for such hours of absence applies from the first hour.
Responsibilities towards service providers
The trend of rulings that widen the range of obligations of service users towards service providers (that is, employees of contractors) who work at their premises has continued. Rulings handed down over the past year have held, amongst other matters, that a service user may be liable towards a service provider for a failure to carry out a hearing procedure prior to the termination of their employment and for a breach of the provisions of the Equal Employment Opportunities Law, 5748-1988.
Employees with disabilities
The Labour Courts have continued to develop rulings relating to the employment of individuals with disabilities, including holding that the definition of a ‘person with disabilities’ should be interpreted broadly and flexibly, whilst expanding the scope and type of adjustments required to be made by employers. In addition, the court ruled on the duties imposed on the employer in circumstances where the disability is not apparent and when the employee does not update the employer regarding their disability.