foreign worker 248.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The cabinet on Sunday began debating a comprehensive plan to reduce the
number of illegal foreign workers in the country.
The plan, proposed by an inter-ministerial committee, focuses on
penalizing employers and limiting entrance permits.
Human rights groups
claim the plan harms the rights of migrants and their families.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz presented the new plan to the cabinet
in Sunday's weekly meeting, but due to time constraints, was unable to
bring it to a vote and was forced to postpone a vote until next week.
The plan, drawn up by representatives of the
Ministries of Finance, Interior and Justice, as well as representatives
of the Prime Minister's Office and the Bank of Israel, authorizes the
enforcement of criminal charges and a minimum fine of NIS 10,000, on
anyone found to be employing an illegal worker.
illegal workers face fines of NIS 25,000 per worker. Those found guilty
will also be barred from receiving permits for legal foreign workers.
The new plan also changes taxation policies for those employing illegal
Starting with the 2010 tax assessments, the Tax
Authority will not recognize wage expenses paid to illegal foreign
workers. Those found employing illegal workers will be subject to a tax
Part of the plan attempts to reduce the incentive of bringing new
foreign workers into the country.
The common practice is that foreign
nationals interested in working in Israel, must pay a high commission
rate to employment agencies that have work permits for migrant workers.
The plan proposes to penalize firms who charge exorbitant fees from
their workers; it increases incarceration times for those found guilty
from six months to three years.
Another measure the new plan takes is to force
agencies that import workers for jobs in the
caregivers sector to pay the workers for a full year's employment.
is meant to encourage them to keep the workers on longer and not rush
to import a new worker from abroad. For the same purpose, a database of
permitted, but unemployed caregivers will be established. Until now,
foreign workers who lost their job because of the death of their
employers were at risk of losing their status.
The companies, eager to
import new workers, were not compelled to first seek existing ones and
the result became termed the "revolving door."
The plan also puts limits on the type of work a foreign worker can
conduct. Every migrant worker who enters Israel will be designated to a
specific sector, which will appear on his or her entrance permit and
will be forbidden from crossing over to other sectors.
Those who are
found not to be working in their designated sector for more than 90
days will be deported.
Another measure that the new plan proposes is to forbid illegal aliens
from applying for work permits while in the country. According to the
new plan, those who were found to be working illegally will be forced
to leave the country and will only be considered for a new permit after
a "freeze" period.
According to the committee's report, there are currently more than
125,000 illegal migrant workers in Israel. "The government's policies
on foreign workers are part of its guidelines, established in its
formation because of the negative influences foreign workers have on
the state," it read.
The new plan does not address the fate of the 1,200 children of illegal
foreign workers, who were set to be deported, along with their families
in November, but were given permission to stay until the end of the
Human Rights groups reacted harshly to some of
the plan's suggestions, claiming the measures forcing a worker to leave
the country before filing a request for a new permit would harm the
worker's families, leaving them without their family member.
spokesman for the Migrant Workers Hotline also criticized the
requirement that the workers to be employed according to specific
sectors, arguing that it unfairly binds the worker to an employee,
something that has been prohibited by the High Court. The Migrant
Workers Hotline, along with Physicians For Human Rights and Kav La'oved
(The Workers' Hotline), have called on Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu to call off the plan.