Knesset panel advances law freezing women’s retirement age

Law gains initial approval from Welfare, Labor and Health Committee will reverse legislation that would raise women's retirement age to 64.

Female Knesset Members 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Female Knesset Members 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A law aimed at permanently freezing the retirement age for women at 62 was initially approved Monday by the Welfare, Labor and Health Committee, chaired by MK Haim Katz (Likud).
The law, which was presented by Katz, together with several MKs from across the political spectrum, will reverse previous legislation whereby the age of retirement for women is set to increase automatically to 64 at the start of next year, and make it more difficult for the Finance Ministry to gradually increase it to 67 over the coming years as has been proposed.
“Exactly at this time of social protest, the Finance Ministry wants to hurt thousands of women for no reason at all,” commented Katz during the committee’s first hearing of the Knesset’s winter session. The meeting was attended by lawmakers supporting the bill, as well as various social-rights groups representing women.
“The country’s economic situation is excellent, the pension funds are balanced, but the treasury still wants to push this through,” continued Katz, who plans to bring the bill for a first reading next week.
Research released Sunday by women’s rights organization Naamat shows that 58 percent of women aged 60-64 do not work and are simply waiting for their official state pensions to kick in. If the plan to increase the age of retirement for women goes through then many will be forced to take menial, low-paying jobs to support themselves.
Since the treasury first announced in June that it planned to bring the women’s retirement age in-line with men, women’s rights groups have been lobbying against the move.
Their arguments stem from what is perceived as major gender inequalities prevalent in the workforce, which have yet to be addressed in any substantial sense by the government.
They also point out that throughout their lives, women are more likely to work in poorly-paid professions.
“Working women do not enjoy equality in the workforce, yet suddenly when it comes to their pension we are willing to make things equal,” commented Galon, who has been vocal alongside other MKs such as Dalia Itzik (Kadima), Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) and Tzippi Hotovely (Likud) against making this change.
He added: “Most women work in professions such as teachers, nurses and cleaners. They are entitled to start their rest earlier.”
Following the meeting, representatives of Naamat told The Jerusalem Post that they were anxious that this law be pushed through the formal process as quickly as possible in order to make sure that the retirement age does not increase automatically this coming January.
The storm over this controversial move has been brewing since March, when Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz appointed a special committee to research whether it was appropriate and practical to have women retire later.
The committee concluded that the age should be increased gradually over the next 15 years, with retirement age reaching 64 by 2017; and then 67, the same as men, by 2026.
Despite the criticisms from women’s groups, the treasury has defended its recommendations by pointing out that many other countries, like Israel, are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and have begun a similar process based on the rationale that the period a person receives a pension is continually growing, and therefore there is a need to find resources to support that extra time.