THE KNESSET building..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Knesset approved in a preliminary reading an amendment proposed by Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie to the Law for Work and Rest Time that will grant non-religious employees the right to refuse to work on their day of rest.
Currently, an employer is able to demand that an employee who requests not to work on their day of rest present a declaration that establishes his religious practices and his observance of the requirements of the religion.
Lavie argues that this situation is not compatible with the principle of religious freedom and conscience “and contradicts the law for equal opportunities at work, which determines that no employee can be subjected to discrimination because of their religious outlook.”
The amendment will allow all employees to refuse to work on their day of rest, for whatever reason and without worrying that they will be fired.
The bill was approved 56 to 2, despite the Ministerial Committee on Legislation’s decision not to support the proposed law earlier this week, following efforts by Likud MK Miki Zohar to advance it.
“Today, people need to lie and say they are religious in order not to work on Shabbat, and secular people who don’t want to work on Shabbat face the danger of being fired,” said Lavie after the bill was approved.
“Shabbat is not just for religious people. It doesn’t matter whether the person is religious or secular, Christian or Muslim, a weekly day of rest is a value of high consideration for us whether for religious, social or societal considerations,” she said.
The MK said that businesses that open on Shabbat can continue to do so, but without forcing employees to work if they do not wish to do so.
Lavie thanked Zohar for his help in getting the legislation approved.
Zohar called the bill “a historic amendment,” saying the current situation is “absurd,” and that he hoped it would “put an end to modern slavery and allow all workers, whoever they are, to have a weekly day of rest.”
The Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah religious-Zionist lobbying group welcomed the bill, but said that “the issue of the status of Shabbat in the State of Israel will not be resolved by specific laws like this, but rather by broad legislation based on societal agreement,” which the organization said it continues to work toward.