New COVID-19 aid plan to grant back payments for isolation; reduce mandatory isolation period

Set to take effect in March, a new aid package has been approved which offers financial compensation to self-employed workers and employers whose employees have been quarantined.

A businessperson working at his computer (Illustrative) (photo credit: PIXNIO)
A businessperson working at his computer (Illustrative)
(photo credit: PIXNIO)

Aid may be coming for employers and the self-employed, according to a statement from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Set to take effect in March, a new aid package has been approved that offers financial compensation to self-employed workers and employers whose employees have been quarantined. In addition, the number of days required to self-quarantine has been reduced to seven days.

As part of the new package, the state will pay NIS 436 per day to self-employed workers required to isolate themselves, to a maximum of four days; workers can make a retroactive request for up to three days’ compensation from July 2021.

The plan, estimated to cost the government NIS 200 million-250m., also grants employers 50%-75% of isolated employees’ salaries from the first day of isolation, depending on the size of their business.

While this could be a saving grace for self-employed workers and small businesses that have been hurting, there are those who are skeptical.

Working from home (credit: PXHERE)Working from home (credit: PXHERE)

“We shouted, and in order to silence us, we are allowed to believe that there is a new compensation mechanism, which, if approved at all, will only be given to the self-employed in March. And let no one get confused, even the new plan does not really give a real answer,” Roee Cohen, the head of the organization Lahav, said.

Lahav represents independent workers and small businesses in Israel and has been fighting for workers’ compensation in the face of the pandemic.

“A year ago, Lahav petitioned the Supreme Court for compensation for the self-employed who are staying in isolation,” Cohen said. 

“The Finance Ministry officials considered it appropriate to compensate the self-employed for only one day of isolation and in the amount of NIS 430; an embarrassing and unreasonable amount by all accounts. After Lahav exerted public pressure on the issue, the Finance Ministry agreed to expand the compensation scheme for self-employed people living in isolation.”

The announcement for compensation comes on the heels of a press conference earlier this week, wherein Liberman declared, “Business is in excellent shape,” and that the government would not be giving out any gifts to businesses affected by the pandemic’s fifth wave.

The Histadrut labor federation clapped back at Liberman.

“At the moment, small businesses can’t survive. We need to build a plan that can aid small businesses. The government needs to put together a plan now, and not in a few months. We can’t wait until the last minute. People need certainty.”