Haredi man in Jerusalem .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The cabinet on Sunday approved a resolution to guarantee that at least 7% of civil-service employees in government ministries, departments and authorities hired in the next three years will come from the Haredi sector.
In December 2016, an amendment to the Law for the Civil Service (Appointments) was passed requiring “fair representation” for members of the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) public. Sunday’s cabinet resolution will give this amendment greater impact.
According to the background material for the cabinet resolution, some 7% of the workforce is Haredi. Although no hard statistics are available, it is thought that their representation in the civil service is exceedingly low.
Sunday’s decision is part of the effort to rectify this situation, along with steps the Civil Service Commission has been taking following the passage of the amendment.
The figure of 7% of employees will apply to new recruits, and will constitute about 130 positions annually.
In particular, an emphasis will be placed on employing Haredi men and women with academic degrees; no less than 85% of the new workers – 6% of the total workforce – will need to have such a qualification.
The definition of who is Haredi comes from the 2016 law, which states that anyone who studies in a Haredi educational institution, or whose spouse or children study in one – as defined in an appendix to the law – is considered to be Haredi for the purposes of this affirmative action.
Other groups benefiting from such reverse discrimination in the civil service include women, Arabs, members of the Ethiopian community and disabled people.
The Israel Democracy Institute welcomed the new resolution, saying that it would help connect the Haredi sector to the workings of the state and its decision making, and help them obtain quality employment.
United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev also welcomed the decision, saying that Haredi men and women “will no longer be at the bottom of the list” when it comes to getting appointed to the civil service.
“This action joins the long list of actions taken in relation to the Civil Service Commission to stop discrimination, and allow Haredim to obtain the rights they deserve and their place amongst civil service employees,” said Maklev.
Employment among Haredi men remains extremely low compared with the rest of the male population, although it has been on the rise in recent years.
In 2015, Haredi male employment passed the 50% mark for the first time since these statistics have been recorded, peaking by year’s end at 54%. The figure has since dropped slightly to 51% as of the end of the second quarter of 2017, compared to the overall rate of employment for men in Israel of approximately 80%.
The decrease in employment has been attributed to the increase in subsidies provided by the current government to the Haredi sector, and to full-time Haredi yeshiva students in particular, after they were cut drastically by the last government.
Approximately 74% of Haredi women are employed, which is only slightly lower than the national average for Israeli women of approximately 82%.
The number of Haredim in higher education has also increased significantly in recent years, with approximately 13,000 Haredi men and women currently studying in university or college compared to 5,500 in 2011.