War and the Workplace – Further Updates
3 December 2023
Dear Clients and Friends,
We continue to keep you updated regarding the effects and consequences of the current military situation on the workplace, including information on relevant legislative amendments.
Amendment to the Law of Protection of Workers in Times of Emergency
The continued state of war had led to the creation of a temporary order, amending the Law of Protection of Workers in Times of Emergency (Amendment No. 5 and Temporary Order – Iron Swords), 5784-2023 (the “Temporary Order“), entering into effect on November 28, 2023.
Before the entering into effect of the Temporary Order, the Law of Protection of Workers in Times of Emergency, 5766-2006 (the “Workers Protection Law“) prohibited the dismissal of an employee absent due to compliance with the instructions arising from a State-declared emergency situation, including in circumstances in which an employee is absent due to his obligation to supervise a child up to the age of 14 (or in the case of a child with special needs, up to the age of 21) living in his or her home, due to the closure of the educational institution where the child studies or is resident.
The Temporary Order states that during the period in which it is in effect, the Workers Protection Law is amended, so that, inter alia, the protection against dismissal will be significantly expanded and will also apply to the following categories of employees:
- An employee who is absent from work due to the educational institution in which his or her child studies being closed by order of a local authority, and not only as the result of an order of the Homefront Command.
- An employee who is absent from work due to being evacuated from his home, located in one of the localities listed in an appendix to the law, namely, localities in the Gaza border area, including the cities of Ashkelon and Sderot, and localities in areas near the Lebanese border.
- An employee who is a parent or spouse of an abducted or missing person.
- An employee who is a child or sibling of an abducted or missing person, or any other relation who has been given a grant under the Law for Subsidy of Expenses of Families of Captives and Abducted and Missing Persons, subject to his or her submitting a signed statement that he or she cannot be in attendance at or carry out work due to being a family member of an abducted or missing person.
- An employee who is abducted or missing.
- An employee who is absent from work due to his or her having to care for a child, living with him or her, up to the age of 14, as a result of the employee’s spouse (or the other parent of the child) serving either as a soldier (either in regular or reserve service), a police officer, a prison guard, a member of the Israel Security Agency or the Mossad, or a member of an assistance or rescue organization.
- An employee who is absent from work due to his or her having to care for a child, living with him or her, up to the age of 14, as a result of the spouse of the employee (or the other parent of the child) being called up to service under the Work During Emergencies Law.
Indirect Amendment to the National Insurance Law – Requirement to Make Pension Contributions in Favor of Abducted or Missing Employees
The Temporary Order included an indirect amendment to the National Insurance Law (Integrated Version), 5755-1995. According to this amendment, an employer of an abducted or missing employee is obligated to continue to make contributions to the employee’s provident fund (including both the employer’s and the employee’s contributions) during the period in which the employee is (or was) abducted or missing, and all in the rates that would have been made, and based on the wages that would have been paid to the employee, if he or she had continued to work during that period.
The State Treasury will indemnify the employer (through the National Insurance Institute) for payments contributed into the provident fund of an abducted or missing employee, provided that these payments were not financed by another source.
The period of validity of the Temporary Order is set as October 7, 2023 through January 7, 2024, but the Minister of Labor, as authorized by the Labor and Welfare Committee of the Knesset, is permitted to extend the period of the Temporary Order – in part or in full – via an order, if it appears that this will be required due to hostilities or military operations, provided that the period of the Temporary Order, including the extension period, does not exceed a total of 12 months in the aggregate.
Amendment to the Employment of Women Law
In the update of November 9, 2023, we presented the major points of the Financial Assistance Program Law (Temporary Order – Operation Iron Swords), 5784-2023. In that context we add and emphasize the following:
- As part of the Financial Assistance Program, the Employment of Women Law, 5714-1954 (“Employment of Women Law“) was amended, such that in a circumstance in which a female employee is placed on unpaid leave after returning to work from maternity leave (after a permit is received for this), the period in which she is on unpaid leave is not included in the sixty-day period in which she is protected from dismissal by virtue of the Employment of Women Law. However, in a circumstance in which an employee is placed on unpaid leave, the minister may grant a permit for her dismissal if he is convinced that the dismissal is not related to the birth, to the maternal leave period, or to her absence due to a medical condition after the end of the maternal leave period, provided that sixty days have passed from the end of the maternal leave period or the absence, and even if the conditions set by the law for the closure of the employer’s business are not met.
Despite a proposal to include a special track of unpaid leave that is made at the initiative of an employee whose spouse has been called up on reserve service or service at an essential organization, and who is required to care for a child up to the age of 14 or a child with special needs, under the law that eventually passed in the Knesset, the existing conditions, under which an employee who has been placed on unpaid leave is entitled to receive unemployment benefits provided that the placement on unpaid leave was carried out at the employer’s initiative, remains in place.
The remainder of relief measures and changes relating to the eligibility for payment of unemployment benefits of an employee who was placed on unpaid leave, as detailed in our update of November 9, 2023, remain in place under the final version of the law as published in the official record.
We remain at your disposal for advice regarding any questions and issues that may rise, and we will continue to keep you updated on all developments.
With hopes for quieter days,
The Labour & Employment
Herzog Fox & Neeman