Woman using laptop in office corridor .
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
The Knesset on Wednesday passed the preliminary reading of a bill to prevent workplace abuse. The bill, put forward by MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union), would provide compensation of up to NIS 120,000 for abuse in the workplace.
The purpose of the bill is to prohibit repetitive behavior such as humiliation, degradation, interfering with a person’s ability to do their job, and any other behavior that creates a hostile environment in the workplace.
The bill would make these actions a civil offense, with compensation of up to NIS 120,000, without requiring proof of damage.
Employers would be required to take reasonable measures to prevent abuse by anyone in the workplace, including clients and suppliers.
For this purpose, employers would be required to institute mechanisms to allow for filing complaints, dealing with complaints, preventing future incidents, and repairing damage.
The bill further would require employers with more than 25 employees to publish rules for the prevention of workplace abuse.
Employers who do not take these steps would be liable for the actions of their employees, anyone appointed by the employer, suppliers, and clients.
Not publishing the rules would be a criminal offense.
Supervision would be performed by an inspector appointed under the Employment (Equal Opportunities) Law.
The explanation for the bill states that workplace abuse is a common social phenomenon that affects many workers.
Studies show that at least one in every four workers in Israel is subject to abuse in the workplace.
Workplace abuse constitutes a violation of human dignity, freedom, well-being, and the ability to function professionally in the workplace, the bill states.
Some cases of workplace abuse can also harm a worker’s physical and emotional health.
“Workers who participated in a survey by the Economy Ministry reported that, as a result of the [workplace] abuse, they experience serious harm to their self-image, to their self-esteem, and also harm to their physical and emotional health,” said Michaeli, explaining the need for the bill to the Knesset.
She noted that health problems caused by workplace abuse cost the economy more than two million working days a year. Over 50 percent of those harmed in the workplace quit, and studies around the world, she said, show that some 10 percent of suicides are the result of workplace abuse.
“The law promotes a concept of ‘win-win,’ in which both sides benefit from the result,” Michaeli explained. “Those who harass workers don’t do it as something personal, rather simply because they can. This law comes to name the phenomenon: workplace abuse, and to say that it is forbidden.
It is outside of our norms, outside of how we want to conduct our lives and to conduct ourselves as human beings.”
Economy Minister Aryeh Deri responded on behalf of the government, saying, “This issue has become a normal management tool. Instead of using managerial skills, you harm others in the workplace and it is very serious. Workers who come home after being abused by the boss, the house is not the same home and the person is not the same person.
Those who suffer from this are primarily those from disadvantaged populations, who are not managers.”
Fifty-eight members of Knesset supported the bill, with no opposition, and it has been passed on to the Labor and Welfare Committee for further discussion in preparation for its final readings.