Israel Elections: Labor Party backs shortening work week

Michaeli stops short of endorsing giving Sundays off

The Labor Party's top 10 candidates. (photo credit: COURTESY LABOR)
The Labor Party's top 10 candidates.
(photo credit: COURTESY LABOR)
Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli on Wednesday unveiled a new plan for improving the lives of Israeli families that includes shortening the workweek, at a press conference at Tel Aviv University.
The event was attended by Labor’s top 10 candidates in the March 23 election, as well as retired politicians who served as ministers in the cabinet of late prime minister and former Labor leader Yitzhak Rabin.
The plan calls for changing the workweek from the current 42 hours to 37, although it does not address how each employer would divide those hours.
“I am not against having Sundays off,” Michaeli told The Jerusalem Post after her presentation. “It requires consideration. We have not decided yet.”
But she said what matters is that Israel’s day of rest is Saturday, because Israel is a Jewish state.
“I am for keeping Shabbat,” said Michaeli, who is secular but has studied Talmud regularly at both Orthodox and pluralist seminaries.
The plan also calls for fathers and mothers to have the same rights according to the law.
“Fathers should have the right to be full-time parents,” she said. “Until now, fathers haven’t had the right to be with their babies, which is a travesty.”
Labor backs granting a full year of parental leave for both parents, including the first four weeks together, then four months for one parent, four months for the other, and three more that could be divided.
The party will also support providing all citizens with full, free education from age one until university. The school year and work schedules would be coordinated better to allow parents to work and not have to take time off to be with their children.
Michaeli acknowledged that such plans would be very expensive, but she said the state could fund it by changing its priorities. For instance, Labor would oppose the state spending money in Judea and Samaria outside settlement blocs.
“There is money available,” she said. “The question is where it is allocated.”