Working public ignorant about minimum wage

Findings raise questions over both the workers' ability to protect their rights and the enforcement of the minimum wage law.

money 224 ap (photo credit: AP)
money 224 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Less than 40 percent of the low-income working population in Israel today are aware of the exact minimum wage level they are entitled to, which raises questions over both the workers' ability to protect their rights and the enforcement of the law. "The findings of the survey show that the basic understanding and perception of the minimum wage law needs to be reexamined in particular regarding the perception of the enforcement of the law, according to which the individual should act as the 'gatekeeper,'" said Benny Pepperman, head of the Research & Economics Department at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry earlier this month. "Since the survey shows that workers are not fulfilling this task, the government must take a more active role in ensuring the proper enforcement of the law." According to the survey carried out by the ministry, 71% of the working population and 63% of the low-income working population - defined as earning less than NIS 4,500 or less than NIS 24.2 per hour - did not know or were wrong about the minimum wage level. At the same time, the survey, which was carried out in 2006 questioning a sample of 1,173 people over the age of 18, found that only a handful of the surveyed workers believed their entitlement to receiving minimum wage was breached over the past year - 4.6% of the general working population and 7.2% of the low-income working population. "However according to cautious estimates, 8% of the general working population, does not receive the minimum wage as entitled by law and 35% to 40% of the low-income working population," stated the ministry's report. "The par shows that workers are not aware of their rights and thus do not know that their rights are being infringed." Furthermore, the survey showed that workers who were paid by an hourly salary, which make up 65% of the low-income population, knew more about minimum wage levels than those paid by a monthly salary, which make up 40% of the low-income group. As such, 46.2% of the low-income workers paid by the hour were aware of the minimum wage level compared with 17.8% among those who received a monthly salary. As of April 2007, the full rate of minimum wage is NIS 3,710.18 for employees with wages calculated on a monthly basis; NIS 19.95 for those calculated on an hourly basis; NIS 171.24 for those calculated daily who work five days a week and NIS 148.41 for those who work six days a week, according to the ministry's Web site.