What are Israel's new COVID-19 financial aid rules? - opinion

The government has now issued new rules for paying confinement compensation via the National Insurance Institute (NII).

Illustrative photo of Israeli money (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Illustrative photo of Israeli money
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

COVID-19 hasn’t gone away yet and many families are enjoying their own company quarantined in home in isolation. Sometimes this stops people working. The government has now issued new rules for paying confinement compensation via the National Insurance Institute (NII). Below is a summary based on our understanding.

Self-Employed Quarantine Pay:

On February 1 an amendment to the law was published (Economic Support Law (New Coronavirus)(Ad Hoc)(Amendment 7) 2022), and the NII published guidance on it dated January 31. The law grants self-employed persons compensation (Dmei Bidud) for quarantine days in the period July 1, 2021–February 28, 2022 if various conditions are met.

A key condition is to notify the Health Ministry immediately of any quarantine – this can be done online. If you are late reporting, you are generally only eligible going back four days before your report. But if you are sick, the NII hears about this anyway from the Health Ministry.

Calculating taxes (credit: INGIMAGE)Calculating taxes (credit: INGIMAGE)
Who is entitled to quarantine pay?

Self-employed people may be eligible for quarantine pay from the NII if: you work on average at least 20 hours per week; or average monthly income at least NIS 5,276 since the beginning of 2020; or monthly average income over NIS 1,583 and you work on average at least 12 hours per week; or you don’t meet any of the preceding conditions but are registered as self-employed with the NII. If you are also employed, you may receive quarantine pay on the employment side from your employer.

Recognized reasons for quarantine pay:

These include: exposure to affected person; quarantine of a child aged under 16 (or older for a child with special needs), return from work trip abroad; if you were yourself sick with corona but only in the period December 21, 20212 to January 31, 2022.

However, in the following cases, you are not eligible: if you continued working; you return from a private trip abroad; you were in quarantine and got sick yourself, from the day you get sick.

How much quarantine pay?

In the period July 1-December 20, 2021, you may receive three days’ quarantine pay per occasion, rising to four days per occasion in the period July 21, 2021-January 31, 2022.

Each day is worth up to NIS570 if the NII recognizes you as self-employed and you are vaccinated, or recovering, or unable to be vaccinated. If the NII recognizes you as self-employed but you are not vaccinated or recovering, the daily amount is NIS427.50. If you are registered as self-employed at the NII and vaccinated/recovering/unable to be vaccinated but don’t meet any other NII conditions above of self-employment, the daily amount is NIS285. If you are registered as self-employed at the NII but not vaccinated/recovering/unable to be vaccinated and don’t meet any other NII conditions above of self-employment, the daily amount is NIS 214.

Deadline for applying:

Applications are made online, apparently up to 180 days after the end of isolation period concerned – but this seems inconsistent with the four-day limitation mentioned above.

Employee Quarantine Pay:

The same Amendment 7 applies to employees in the period up to February 28, 2022.

Eligible Employee in quarantine:

An eligible employee in quarantine is one who presents his employer with confirmation of one of the following:

  • Received first vaccination within the last 30 days.
  • Received second vaccination within the last seven days.
  • Received all required vaccinations for a valid vaccination certificate, and the prescribed time has not yet expired.

How it works for employees:

An eligible employee in quarantine is entitled to quarantine pay from the first day from his employer.

The employer may receive reimbursement from the government regarding quarantine pay paid to the employee as follows:

For the first full quarantine day, but only in the period December 21, 2021 to January 31, 2022;

For remaining days, up to 75% reimbursement if the employer has up to 20 employees or up to 50% reimbursement if there are more than 20 employees.

The NII is supposed to reimburse employers by February 15, 2022 regarding the period December 21, 2021 to January 31, 2022.

Government assistance is welcome, but it remains to be seen how well the arrangements work out in practice. The amendment may also be extended, but apparently only up to two weeks. The hope is that COVID-19 will be in decline in Israel by then.

As always, consult experienced tax advisers in each country at an early stage in specific cases.

The writer is a certified public accountant and tax specialist at Harris Horoviz Consulting & Tax Ltd.

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