Labor Law Update | April 2020
Update Regarding Passover Restrictions
Dear Clients and Friends,
Following our previous circulars regarding Israel’s preparations for dealing with the Covid-19 virus, we would like to update you on the Israeli Government’s recent decision regarding a closure, and additional, more recent decisions:
Extension of the general closure and limiting employment from Wednesday, April 8, 2020, until Friday, April 10, 2020:
As was announced by the Prime Minister, and published in the media, the government has decided to extend the restrictions on the public from Wednesday evening and, as of this afternoon, to affect a closure.
As a result, Emergency Regulations (Limiting the number of workers in the workplace to reduce the spread of the new corona virus), 5720-20 (the “Regulations“), were amended in relation to the period from Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 15:00 to Friday, April 10,. 2020 at 6 p.m., as follows:
As we stated in our previous circulars, the Regulations stipulated that employers are required to reduce workforce to 15% of employees or ten employees, whichever is higher, and to reduce as much as possible “back-office” employees.
The new amendment states that for the period as of Wednesday April 8, 2020 at 15:00 and until Friday April 10, 2020 at 06:00 no employees will be allowed if the workplace is located in a settlement where the majority of residents are Jewish.
The regulations stipulate that employers may allow employees to be at the workplace if it is necessary in order to maintain the workplace, or perform essential or urgent activities in the workplace, provided that the number of employees is reduced to the number necessary for these purposes only and that the number of employees does not exceed the maximum permitted number of employees, who can simultaneously attend the workplace (15% or 10 employees whichever is higher).
With respect to employers who have a special permit to employ employees during the weekly rest hours, according to section 12 of the Work and Rest Law, 5751-1951, which was granted so as not to harm work process, during the said period only the number of employees mentioned in the permit may be allowed to be present in the workplace.
With respect to employers who have been excluded from limitations on the number of allowed employees, as we have previously stated, there has been no change, and these may continue to work in accordance with the rules that have existed to date.
The Regulations do not contain any special rules regarding employees who are required to travel to work, such as carrying a specific certificate.
We note that in parallel with the said amendment, a provision was made to stop public transportation activity starting Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Nevertheless, despite the new restrictions, transportation to the workplace will be permitted in accordance with the instructions of the Ministry of Health.
New duties for employers
The regulations amended the duty of the employer with respect to entrance of employees to the workplace, according to which the employer or anyone on his behalf (as far as this is not a medical institution) is required to ask all incoming persons (i.e. employees, clients as far as they can be admitted, couriers, suppliers, manpower employees, etc.). The following questions:
- Are you coughing?
- Is your body temperature 38 degrees Celsius or higher or have you had such a fever during the past week?
- Have you been in contact with Corona patient during the past two weeks?
Anyone who did not answer “no” to all the questions, except for a chronic condition, will not be allowed entry.
In addition, the employer is required to arrange a non-invasive body temperature measurement for all those attending the workplace.
Another duty for employers relates to the obligation to wear a mouth and nose mask. According to the order, starting on April 12, 2020, every person leaving his residence will be required to wear a mask. The order states that the employer must ensure that a mask is worn in the workplace.
Amendment of the Employment of Women Law, which permits furlough of protected employees:
The Employment of Women Law protects employees on or after maternity leave, as well as pregnant women or employees on fertility treatments, against dismissal or reduction of employment scope, and forces employers to obtain a permit from the Commissioner of the Employment of Women Law (hereinafter – the “Commissioner“).
As we updated you in the circular dated March 17, 2020, with the beginning of the Corona crisis, the Commissioner issued special instructions on how to furlough protected employees, in a unique form which was issued specifically for this period.
In light of the delay created by the amount of applications, the government approved the Emergency Regulations (New Corona Virus) (Women’s Employment), 2020 (the “Regulations”).
The Regulations permit unpaid leave of absence for protected employees.
It has now been determined that an employer who meets the following criteria is no longer required to apply for a permit, and may be allowed to furlough protected employees (even if he has already applied for a permit and has not yet been received a decision). This is subject to the following conditions:
- Unpaid leave will for a period of at least 30 days but no more than 60 days.
- The unpaid leave is not related to the protection provided to the employee (i.e., pregnancy, maternity leave or fertility treatments).
- The employer made efforts to find an alternative position under the same conditions and scope of employment.
- The employee expressed their written consent to the unpaid leave.
- The employer decided to furlough employee after business activity was restricted following the regulations and orders issued due to the Corona crisis, or alternatively, business activity was reduced due to providing service to a business whose activity was restricted.
- The employee’s position is included in the restricted / reduced activity.
- With respect to a pregnant employee, her estimated date of birth is not within the 30 days following the commencement date of her leave of absence.
- The special collective bargaining agreement regarding the vacation leave of employees in the public sector, of which we updated you in the circular dated March 22, 2020 does not apply to the employee.
In the case of an employer who does not meet the criteria set out above, the employer must apply for a permit, in accordance with the existing instructions.
In addition, an employer who does not meet the criteria but has already applied to the Commissioner for a permit, is required to contact the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services again and report that he does not meet the criteria, so the application will be reviewed.
The regulations apply to all employees who have been put on unpaid leave by the employer as of March 15, 2020 (the “Effective Date“).
If a permit is granted under section 9A of the law before April 6, 2020 (the day the regulations come into force), the permit shall be deemed to have been granted on the day the employee was put on unpaid leave or on the Effective Date, whichever is later.
We wish all our clients a happy, kosher and healthy holiday.
We request once again to follow the Ministry of Health’s guidelines and to minimize where possible the need to remove employees from their homes.
We continue to be available during this unique period, we continue our work and are available by email, telephone, and even face-to-face meetings if required and possible. We will continue updating from time to time in accordance with the various instructions issued.