In the two years since it took over responsibility for monitoring the flow of
foreign workers into Israel, the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration
Authority has failed to create a clear and concrete policy toward those migrants
working in the nursing profession, the State Comptroller’s Report
released on Tuesday has revealed.
The Comptroller’s Office examined the
importance of foreign caregivers, their treatment by the state and their
relationship with elderly employers.
According to the report, the
Population and Immigration Authority was required to design a system that would
find a balance between protecting the rights of foreign caregivers and ensuring
that those in need of home-based nursing, mostly the elderly, received adequate
In September 2006, Supreme Court ruled that the government must
create a new system to employ foreign caregivers in this country, highlighted
the Comptroller’s Office, which spent April to August 2010 investigating the
authority’s work, including the activities of its Oz Unit immigration
“The new system was meant to improve the homecare services
provided to the elderly, while at the same time protect the rights of the
“It was also supposed to provide stricter supervision of
the agencies that bring in foreign workers from abroad,” read the report,
adding, “Two years have passed since [the Interior Ministry’s Population and
Immigration Authority] took over the treatment and responsibility for migrant
caregivers, but still it has not provided even the basic outline of a new method
of working with the migrants.”
“Caregivers who come here can lose their
legal status very quickly under the current arrangements,” explained Sigal
Rozen, public policy coordinator for the Hotline for Migrant
“There has to be some kind of system that will give them [the
migrant workers] working power, because the way it has been conducted all these
years is almost impossible.
“We understand the distress and the problems
of the elderly, and we sympathize with them, but the way to help them is not by
punishing and shackling the migrant workers [to their particular employer] but
by giving them incentive to stay here and work,” continued Rozen.
encourage foreign caregivers to take on more challenging jobs or to work in the
periphery, they should be given incentives, she added.
One of the
government’s concerns is that there is a shortage of caregivers working in some
fields and certain remote areas, and that the migrants move between jobs with no
commitment to their elderly employers. A law approved by the Knesset this week
could make it more difficult for foreign caregivers to move from one job to
another or even to move to different towns.
As of August 2010, there were
some 57,000 migrant caregivers in Israel, 42,000 of whom were employed in
nursing, data from the Population and Immigration Authority shows.