Labor Law Update | April 2020
Labor Law Update – The Coronavirus
Dear Clients and Friends,
Following our previous updates, we hereby inform you of new regulations of the Israeli Government, published on April 19, 2020, which propose initial steps for an Israeli exit plan from the Coronavirus crisis.
These new regulations allow for a wider scope for employees in the workplace, and for more businesses to operate.
The following is a summary of the current regulations:
Number of Employees Allowed in a Workplace:
The number of employees who are allowed to be present simultaneously in a workplace was increased to 30% of all employees or 10 employees, whichever is higher. However, there are several exemptions to this 30% restriction, under which certain employers may have more employees present simultaneously in the workplace (depending on the type of business). Among others, such exemptions apply to employers in the construction industry and various governmental authorities and governmental corporations. Furthermore, different industries (as detailed in this link), including the financial sector, energy sector and the food and beverage sector, may employ all of their employees, provided however, that their work cannot be done remotely.
Notwithstanding the above, employers should consider allowing their employees to continue to work from home, if possible.
Employers are required to ensure that the number of employees in the workplace does not exceed the number of employees allowed, and an employee who has been request not to come to the workplace is required not to do so.
In accordance with the new regulations, employers who are limited to 30% of all employees in the workplace, and wish to increase the number of employees, are required to do all of the following:
- Appoint a representative who shall be responsible for all Covid-19 related affairs (the “Representative“). The Representative shall ensure that:
- The employer complies with its duties (as further detailed below), including with respect to masks and heat measurement.
- In an office workplace, every employee shall work in his/her permanent room, and the following shall apply:
- In a room of up to 20 square meters there shall be no more than two employees, or a larger number if there is a proper barrier between them.
- In a room bigger than 20 square meters there shall be no more than five employees, or a larger number if there is a proper barrier between them.
- Notwithstanding the above, a professional meeting of up to 8 employees may be held in a room exceeding 20 square meters.
- Eating or drinking will be done, as far as possible, in the employee’s permanent room.
- The employer, as far as possible, shall allow employees who can perform their work outside the workplace to do so from their homes.
- The employer shall keep a digital record of the number of customers and suppliers present at the workplace and the number of inquiries and heat measurements performed, as well as the number of people who were not entered into the workplace as a result of their answers to the questioning or heat measurements results.
- Every employee will, as far as possible, work with same suppliers.
- Employer who operate a shuttle service to and from the workplace will, as far as possible, ensure that the same group of employees are together in the same shuttle.
- Employers shall not allow the entry of any employee who is 67 years old or older, unless such employee was in the workplace between March 22, 2020 to April 18, 2020 (in whole or in part).
- Employers are required to inform their employees on all the requirements and guidelines as detailed herein, by using signs.
- The CEO and the Representative shall sign a statement, undertaking to ensure compliance with these requirements and guidelines.
- An employee whose employer has ruled that he is not allowed to come to the workplace due to the requirements set forth herein, will not come to the workplace.
- Customers shall be allowed to enter a workplace to the extent that there is no other option for providing the services. Customers shall be allowed to enter in a ratio of two customers per each employee who provide customer services.
- A workplace will be shut down by a district physician or the Israeli Ministry of Health, to the extent that it is determined that one of its employees was infected with Covid-19, at least until the finalization of the related epidemiological investigation.
The Employers’ Duties
- An employer (or anymore acting on its behalf) is required to ask anyone entering the workplace (not just for employees) the following questions: (a) are you coughing?; (b) does your temperature is 38°C or higher, or was it 38°C or higher during the past week? and (c) have you been in close contact with a Covid-19 patient in the past two weeks?. Anyone who provides a positive answer to one of these questions will not be allowed in the workplace, unless such positive answer is due to another chronic condition such as asthma.
- Arrange heat measurement by non-invasive means for all persons entering the workplace and must not allow anyone with a temperature exceeding 38°C to enter.
- Maintain a distance of 2 meters between all persons within the workplace.
- As far as possible, each employee will be assigned with his own personal equipment (e.g. landline phone, keyboard). If such requirement is not possible, such equipment shall be sterilized before it being passed between different employees.
- Employees should be instructed to maintain their personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing.
- Using an elevator by more than two people simultaneously should be avoided.
- Employer shall, to the extent possible, schedule the same group of employees in the same shifts.
Under the new regulations, it is mandatory to wear a mask (covering the nose and mouth), in any case when a person leaves his/her place of residence (other than media broadcasts, minors under 6 years old and people who are physically or mentally disabled and cannot cover their faces).
An employee who works in a closed or separated space within a workplace (without any other person), as well as two employees who share a room and are at least 2 meters apart, are not required to wear a mask. Furthermore, in certain open space workplaces, with certain separation, employees shall not be obligated to wear masks.
Employers shall not allow the entry and shall not provide services to anyone who is not wearing a mask (other than to those who are exempt from such duty).
Signs indicating the duty of wearing a mask should be displayed in the workplace, and to the extent that there is a PA system in the workplace, it must be used once every 30 minutes at least, remaindering the employees of this obligation.
Removal of Certain Restrictions on Business’ Operations
The regulations prohibit the operation of businesses that are open to the public other than if such is required for providing an essential product or service, provided that the employees engaged in such activity are as limited as possible.
Among the businesses that are not allowed to operate under the new regulations are shopping centers (except for pharmacies and business that sell food or hygiene products), entertainment venues, gyms, swimming pools and aesthetic treatments.
However, certain businesses, as listed in this link, which includes, among others, furniture stores, electrical stores and laundries, are allowed to operate, for as long as such businesses are not located in a shopping center, and provided that the business owner submits to the local authority a declaration, in the following form, which indicates that the owner complied with the following requirements:
- All the requirements and obligations imposed on an employer, as detailed herein.
- The owner shall appoint a representative who shall be responsible for all Covid-19 related affairs. Such representative shall be responsible for carrying out all the obligations detailed below.
- The owner shall maintain hygiene in the workplace, including making sure that internal surfaces in the workplace are being disinfected regularly.
- The owner shall ensure that a proper barrier is placed in the workplace’s counters, in order to prevent any sprays between the employees and the customers.
- The owner shall, as far as possible, keep at least 2 meters distance between people in the workplace. The owner shall mark the places in which customers should stand while in lines and shall place signs indicate on such requirements.
- The owner shall ensure that no crowding of people occur in the workplace, including by controlling the entries to the workplace, so that no more than two customers per each active cash register will be in the workplace at any given time. In stores bigger than 100 meters, there will be no more than 4 customers per each active cash register.
In accordance with the new regulations, the above instructions will be monitored within two weeks of the owner’s statement receipt.
With the exception of the above reference to employees aged 67 years old or older, there is no specific reference or requirements regarding employees who are considered as “at-risk populations”.
Please note that as of this date, public transportation is still reduced, and we recommend that employers take into consideration the ability of their employees to return home after work hours.
The Women’s Labor Law – Updates
As noted in our previous update, on April 8, 2020, a regulation was issued by the Israeli Government in connection with the Women’s Labor Law. Such regulation stated that an unpaid leave of female employee or other protected employee due to pregnancy and/or fertility treatments will not be considered as a deterioration to their employment terms (subject to certain conditions as set forth therein). Such regulations were cancelled on April 17, 2020.
Please note that such cancellation was not done retrospectively, and it is our opinion that employers who followed all the guidelines as set forth in the regulations during the aforementioned periods will not be required to obtain a permit. However, we recommend reviewing the matter with our firm to ensure your compliance with all required obligations. We recommend to any employers that have not yet acted according to such regulations to contact our firm for legal advice.
Please note that our firm is at your service during these unique times. We are continuing our work and are available by email, telephone, and, if required, even face-to-face meetings where permitted.