Illlustrative photo of a man relaxing on vacation.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The High Holy Days may be over, but relief for overworked Israelis is in sight.
On Thursday, the Economy Ministry, Histadrut labor federation, and Manufacturers Association reached a deal to raise the minimum number of vacation days, currently set at 10, to 11 in 2016 and 12 in 2017.
“This is a fix for an historic injustice,” said Economy Minister Arye Deri. “A worker must get a fair salary and adequate work conditions,” he added.
Israelis, who work relatively long hours by international standards, start at 10 paid vacation days for workers working five-day weeks and 12 for workers working sixday weeks. The new guidelines would boost the figure by two days for workers with under two years of experience, and another day for those with three-four years of experience.
According to the Economy Ministry, experience will be measured cumulatively, so as to ensure the weakest workers don’t “reset” their benefits every time they change jobs.
Though the agreement by competing players cannot in itself change the rules, it will make passing legislation to do so relatively simple.
Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn acknowledged the efforts of Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria, who proposed a bill earlier in the year to dramatically increase the number of vacation days, but said that such action required broader cooperation, a seeming critique of the Histadrut’s exclusion from the drafting of her proposal.
“A significant process such as raising the number of vacation days for workers cannot rely on one-sided legislation,” he said.
Manufacturers Association president Shraga Brosh had come out harshly against the earlier legislation, which would have roughly doubled the number of vacation days, saying it would cost the economy billions of shekels and put a heavy onus on employers already adjusting to rising minimum wages. Azaria argued that the benefits would help make life easier for parents.
On Thursday, however, Brosh had come around to a different view.
“I welcome our shared success with the Histadrut to find an answer for a topic as important as vacation days, which benefits the weakest workers, in particular, that are integrating into working in the economy,” Brosh said. He, too, noted the importance of the Histadrut in negotiating such a deal.
Deri said he would bring a previous agreement on raising the minimum wage to the cabinet for a vote on Sunday.