Ministries urged to promote reservist employment

MK Ronnie Bar-On calls for pressure on Yishai to approve regulation reforms for small to medium-sized enterprises.

IDF soldiers marching in Second Lebanon War 311 (R) (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
IDF soldiers marching in Second Lebanon War 311 (R)
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
Members of the Knesset State Control Committee urged the government on Wednesday to come up with a plan to encourage small and medium-sized businesses to employ IDF reservists.
The meeting was scheduled after the state comptroller’s office raised concern in December over the difficulties reserve soldiers face in finding employment. A recent survey conducted by human resources firm Oketz Systems found that 55 percent of businesses prefer not to employ reservists.
Committee chairman Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) urged Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry director-general Sharon Kedmi to formulate a compensation plan for unemployed reserve soldiers within two months, and also called on Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Independence) and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) to participate in solving the issue.
Bar-On pointed out that the state comptroller’s office had also identified deficiencies in the government’s assistance program for small and medium- sized businesses, and called on Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon (Independence) to pressure Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) to approve reforms to business regulations.
Kedmi told the committee that a bill initiated by his ministry aimed at increasing government assistance to small to medium-sized enterprises would be passed by the cabinet in the coming days and sent to the Knesset for a first reading before the end of the current winter session. He said that progress was being made in talks between the ministry and the Histadrut labor federation on assistance for struggling businesses, but added that the Treasury and Defense Ministry were still at odds over how to assist business owners who serve in the IDF reserves.
IDF chief reservist officer Brig.-Gen. Shuki Ben-Anat proposed that the government offer income-tax reductions to businesses who employ reservists and to business owners who serve in the reserves themselves. He suggested that the reduction be determined according to the number of reserve days the business owner or his employers serve each year.
Avi Sayag, the chairman of a group representing reserve regiment and brigade commanders and pilots, accused the IDF of not providing data on reservists to the Treasury, and called on governmental institutions to assist reservists by granting them credit points. He said the National Insurance Institute had already committed to delivering payments to independent business owners who serve in reserve duty.
But committee member Marina Solodkin (Kadima) said that “due to the minister having time and the reservists lacking money,” reservist soldiers should take immediate action and petition the High Court of Justice on the matter.