Gov't seeks fair teen labor for summer

The Ministry "sees great importance in strict observance of youth labor rights."

The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry's Enforcement Administration is set to redouble its efforts to ensure fair employment of teenagers during summer break. The administration is also dedicating particular attention to increasing public awareness of teenagers' labor rights, administration director Eli Paz said Tuesday, stressing that any employer found to be breaking labor laws would face criminal charges leading to either a fine or indictment, depending on the severity of the infraction. The Ministry "sees great importance in strict observance of youth labor rights, both in terms of the law and in order to ensure the educational value of work," said Labor Law Enforcement Supervisor Hezi Ofir. This summer, "several thousand" teenagers are expected to join the roughly 70,000 of their peers who went to work during the 2005-2006 school year, taking jobs in event halls, restaurants, supermarkets and shuks, as well as in summer camps and sales stands in malls, a ministry official said. To work legally, teenagers must first request a work slip (pinkas avoda), free of charge, from the nearest bureau of the Employment Service. Two passport pictures and a medical permit are required. Teenagers younger than 14 are not legally employable, and 14-year olds must also only be employed in the summer for light labor that will not hurt their health or development. Those aged 15 and above may be employed during the school year, but only if the Mandatory Education Law does not apply to them. But they, too, must not be used for specified heavy or dangerous jobs. Special rules also apply to the employment of kids younger than 15 in shows or advertisements. Teenagers may be employed for up to eight hours daily, and not more than 40 hours per week. Employing youth overtime or on the weekly rest day is illegal, the ministry noted. Yoram Bar-Kovetz of the Union of Working and Studying Youth, however, stressed that "the reality is that there are people who violate the law," and teenagers can be found working overtime and on Shabbat throughout the country. The ministry also said that after six hours of work, young workers have the right to rest and eat for 45 minutes, generally unpaid, of which at least 30 minutes is uninterrupted. Kids younger than 16 must not be employed between eight o'clock in the evening and eight in the morning, and those between the ages of 16 and 18 cannot be employed between 10 at night and six in the morning without a special permit. Even if a permit is obtained, minors cannot legally be employed after 11 at night. Minimum wage for full-time employment (up to 40 hours weekly) was raised this week to NIS 2,509.63 monthly, or NIS 14.51 per hour, for minors 16 years old or younger; NIS 2,688.88, or NIS 15.54 per hour, for those up to 17 years old; NIS 2,975.70, or NIS 17.20 an hour, for those up to 18 years old and NIS 2,151.11, or NIS 12.43 per hour, for apprentices. Adults aged 18 and older must be paid at least NIS 3,586.18 monthly, or NIS 19.28 per hour. Part-time minimum wages must be calculated as the appropriate percentage of a full-time position. The Union of Working and Studying Youth said that, quasi-officially, those employing minors overtime and on Shabbat generally pay them the required bonus defined for adult overtime work - 125% of the defined minimum wage for their age bracket for the ninth and tenth hours and 150% for hours worked on Shabbat. "But there are also employers who violate the law [which forbids underage overtime work] and don't even pay the bonus," he said. All work hours must be compensated, including preparatory hours and office meetings, even if the employer calls them "trial" or "learning" periods, the ministry noted. Additionally, teenagers may receive refunds of up to NIS 21.14 daily for transportation costs from their home to work and back.•