Client Update- Easing of Workplace Restrictions
18 March 2021
Dear Clients and Colleagues,
In light of the continuing decline in Covid-19 infection rates, the government has decided to amend those certain regulations, which imposed restrictions on workplace activity.
According to the amendment to the regulations, as of today, March 18, 2021, the following changes will apply:
- Cancellation of the Obligation to Conduct Temperature Checks: During the past year, employers have been required to put in place a mechanism for checking their employees’ temperature, prior to their entering the workplace. This requirement has now been cancelled. Based on the position, that was ratified in the Protection of Privacy Authority’s publications, whereby no measures should be taken if they infringe upon an individual’s privacy, and which are not mandated by law; no further temperature checks should be conducted on employees entering the workplace, even if the employer seeks to conduct such checks as a precaution.
- Eating at the Workplace: The amendment to the regulations has cancelled the provision whereby eating and drinking shall be conducted, where possible, at the employees’ permanent rooms. Instead, the regulations now enable the use of workplace cafeterias.
If the cafeteria is located outdoors, employers must ensure that a two meter distance is maintained between the tables.
If the cafeteria is located indoors, employers should enable all employees to collect their food. The use of the cafeteria shall be permitted for individuals with a “Green Status” (i.e. a valid certificate of recovery from Covid-19, or a valid Covid-19 vaccination certificate). An indoor cafeteria shall not exceed 75% of its maximal capacity, up to a maximum of 100 individuals. Employers must ensure that a two meter distance is maintained between the tables, and position an individual in charge of keeping such distance at all times. Employers should meticulously ensure that sanitary conditions and hygiene are maintained, according to the instructions of the Manager (as defined in the regulations).
- Professional Conferences: According to the amendment to the regulations, conferences and trainings can be conducted at the workplace, for employees with a “Green Status”, which include, lectures; provided that remote access is also enabled. At this stage, conferences and trainings that require active employee participation are not permitted. In relation to conferences, the regulations stipulate various requirements regarding the maximal capacity, etc., including, a distinction between conferences at which food is served, and those at which food is not served. Employers that are contemplating conducting a conference, are encouraged to seek specific advice regarding the applicable requirements they are required to meet, pursuant to the regulations.As to workplace gatherings, that are not for the purpose of conducting conferences or trainings, the current limitation is, 50 individuals outdoors, and 20 individuals indoors, unless a larger gathering is required, pursuant to workplace needs, and in accordance with the regulations.
- Gyms: workplace gyms and studios may be opened. The general restrictions which are applicable to gyms shall apply to workplace gyms too. Accordingly, only employees with a “Green Status” shall be granted access to workplace gyms, and only upon prior coordination.
In addition to the amendment to the regulations, regarding workplace restrictions, we note that an amendment to the National Insurance Law, dated March 16, 2021, sets an exemption from employer National Insurance payments, on account of employees that were placed on unpaid leave. This applies in relation to employees who were placed on a period of unpaid leave of at least one calendar month, during the period between April 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021 (note that the Minister of Finance may extend this period until June 30, 2021).
We continue to be at your disposal for any questions you may have.
The Labour and Employment Department
Herzog Fox & Neeman