A man in Jerusalem searching through the garbage.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Planned government amendments to the unemployment benefits law will hurt people – particularly women, families with children and Arabs, according to a study released by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies.
Taub Center principal researcher Prof. Johnny Gal and researcher Shavit Madhala-Brik examined the implications of the proposed changes to the law and offered an international comparison.
According to the report, the unemployment benefits law was established in Israel in 1973 with the aim of ensuring that people who were fired from their positions would receive unemployment benefits for a time until they could re-integrate into the labor market.
Since that time, numerous amendments to the unemployment benefits law have been made, with the most recent proposal seeking to amend the eligibility period required in order to receive benefits.
Currently, the eligibility period required in order to receive benefits stands at 12 months of employment out of the 18 months prior to unemployment – similar to many European countries.
The proposed changes seek to lengthen the eligibility requirement, that is, the number of months of employment out of the qualifying period to 24 out of the preceding 30 months for those under the age of 30, and 18 out of the 24 months prior to unemployment for those between the ages of 30 and 35.
This move would make eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits for young Israelis particularly strict compared to other states, the researchers concluded.
The study also found that the share of young unemployed individuals among all those receiving unemployment benefits is relatively small in Israel. Between 2000 and 2014, the share of unemployment recipients under the age of 30 trended down, and it currently stands at 16 percent of total unemployment benefit recipients.
However, the researchers noted that the majority of unemployment recipients between the ages of 25 and 29 are women and a third have an academic education.
Among unemployment recipients between the ages of 30 and 34, the share of those with an academic education is higher and stands at about 40% of the unemployed in this age group.
The study found that the proposed change to the law will mean that about 15% of those receiving benefits today (about 11,000 unemployed individuals) will not be entitled to benefits.
According to Gal and Madhala-Brik, the proposed change will impact people whose average unemployment benefit level is lower than average. Some 7,100 women (about 64% of the total group) will no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits, versus about 4,000 men (about 36%).
Another group that will be seriously harmed is those with one or two children. About 23% of parents with two children previously receiving benefits will no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits after the change to the law.
“It is reasonable to assume that the populations that will be harmed by the law do not have a firm economic base to provide alternate income during their unemployment,” Gal and Madhala-Brik wrote.
“In addition, the period of benefit entitlement for younger individuals is shorter than for older adults. The suggested change will bring an annual savings of about NIS 78 million in welfare expenditures, but will seriously reduce access to unemployment security for young adults who find themselves unemployed,” they wrote.
The researchers concluded that in light of these findings it is “recommended to reexamine this step, which is likely to harm the most vulnerable among the unemployed population.”