(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved a bill that will provide unemployment benefits to self-employed or “independent” workers for the first time.
“Discrimination against the independents and the denial of their rights for unemployment benefits is not consistent with the purpose of the National Insurance Law and the principle underlying the doctrine of social security,” said the bill’s sponsors, Kulanu MKs Eli Cohen and Roy Folkman.
If passed, the bill would provide a safety net to entrepreneurs whose businesses go under, as well as freelancers and self-employed workers.
Cohen said knowing they have a safety net should things go wrong will encourage people to start their own businesses, a process that already carries a great deal of financial risk.
The committee also passed a bill that would require the government to pay its suppliers within 30 days, another move seen as a boon for small and medium businesses that service the state. Folkman said roughly two-thirds of the small and medium businesses that supply the state have to stretch out their resources for three months before they are compensated for their work.
Ehud Ratzavi, the president of Lahav, a group that represents small businesses, praised the development.
“Small businesses are a growth engine for the economy and create jobs at a relatively high rate,” he said.
“Therefore the government should help entrepreneurs open small businesses and give them a safety net in the form of unemployment benefits in the event the business closes.”
The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, a business lobby, praised the bills as long overdue. FICC president Uriel Lynn said the committee “eliminated the discrimination between a salaried employee and an independent.
This is a first step.”
Although the bill was sponsored by coalition party Kulanu, it fulfilled a promise made by several political parties during the election campaign.
Opposition MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) praised the bill as fulfilling one of his party’s priorities.
“After years of struggle against the great injustice that has been done to a huge sector of the economy that for years had no safety net for a rainy day, justice was done today, and the ministerial committee made the right choice,” he said.