1st reserve duty benefits law passed

Legislation raises reservists' salaries, offers tax benefits; law expected to cost NIS 800m.

reservists train 224.88 (photo credit: IDF)
reservists train 224.88
(photo credit: IDF)
Following five years of intensive legislation, the Knesset on Wednesday passed the country's first law defining the conditions and benefits of reserve duty in the IDF. The Reserve Law passed in its third reading with a majority of 61 MKs and officially sets conditions for calling up reserve forces, the economic rights of reservists, and for the quality of equipment and preparedness. "This is a historic moment," said Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel. "This provides solutions for the reservists who make up the core of the IDF's might. This law will provide benefits to people who carry the majority of the burden in the IDF." Previously, some of the rules concerning reserve service were addressed by the General Security Service Law, but in many cases legislation was missing. Some of the current law was lifted directly from the earlier one, but most of it is new, worked on over the past year by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i. One of the central themes of the new legislation is compensation for reserve service. Originally, unemployed people - including students working at minimum wage - were paid NIS 3,700 for their service, corresponding to the national minimum wage. Now, the compensation will be pegged to 68 percent of the average income, raising their salary to approximately NIS 5,300. "All of these benefits send a message to reservists that we appreciate their contributions," said Harel. In addition, all reservists who serve over 15 days per year will be entitled to a tax break - up to two credit points on their income taxes, a benefit that could add up to as much as NIS 4,000. Reservists who earn NIS 10,000 a month will - instead of losing part of their salary in the reserves - now be overcompensated, receiving up to several hundred shekels more than their regular salaries. The law also standardizes the number of days that reservists can be called up to serve, with most regular soldiers limited to serving 54 days, non-commissioned commanders serving 70 days and officers serving 84 days over a three-year period. The Second Lebanon War, which broke out as the legislation was in the process of being drafted, played a key role in emphasizing the importance of certain parts of the law. The reforms will not come cheap and will cost the public coffers an estimated NIS 800 million. Some of that is already in use by the Defense Ministry, and the Finance Ministry's estimate is that the law's conditions will ultimately cost an additional NIS 600m.