Proposed bill to protect workers after natural disasters

"Don’t terminate workers because of wildfire," urges Ben-Eliezer.

By SHARON WROBEL
December 5, 2010 23:55
2 minute read.
INDUSTRY, TRADE and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-El

Ben Eliezer 311. (photo credit: Assaf Shila/Israel Sun)

Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer is calling upon employers to refrain from firing workers who are having difficulties in coming back to work because of the massive wildfire in the Carmel forest.

In an effort to help those affected by the blaze, Ben-Eliezer has called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to deal with the situation by amending the workers’ protection law.

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“We can not allow a situation in which citizens are torn between instructions by the security forces not to return to their homes and instructions by employers to come to work,” said Ben-Eliezer.

The industry, trade and labor minister, the defense minister and the internal security minister are working together to prepare a draft amendment to the Law for the Protection of Workers in Times of Emergency. The new legislation aims to expand the scope of the current law by also averting layoffs in emergency scenarios involving natural disasters, such the wildfire in the Carmel forest. The Law for the Protection of Workers in Times of Emergency was enacted in 2006 specifically to protect workers affected by a war or combat situation at the Home Front.

The amendment to the law will cover cases of natural disasters in which absentees from work will be protected from being fired if they were evacuated from their homes, if their homes were destroyed because of disasters or if they were bound by other instructions to stay away from work.

Ben-Eliezer added that the ministry will consider applying the amendment to the law retroactively.

“A war against natural forces is a war like any other and coping with such a war requires adjustment and protection of labor laws to enable the functioning of the economy and to ensure fair conditions for workers,” said Deputy Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Orit Noked at the cabinet meeting in the North on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Israel Manufacturers’ Association representing factories and businesses in the north, said that there wasn’t any report of damage caused to the factories in the North as a result of the Carmel blaze.

“The factories in the North were not damaged by the fire,” said Micky Shern, chairman of the association’s branch in the North, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “We only heard about one factory located in Tirat Carmel that didn’t work on Friday because of the wildfire.”

Shern added that on Sunday the factory in Tirat Carmel returned to work, while the majority of employees at other factories in the North continued work as usual on Sunday.


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