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Bezeq subsidiaries warn unvaccinated workers will be sent home without pay — TV

Report says telcom firms tell employees they cannot come into office after Passover if they haven’t received vaccine or don’t present a negative COVID test

Bezeq workers installing fiber optic cables. (Courtesy)
Illustrative: Bezeq workers installing fiber optic cables. (Courtesy)

Several subsidiaries of the Bezeq telecoms giant have informed employees they will be sent home without pay if they do not get vaccinated or regularly present negative coronavirus tests, Israeli television reported Monday.

The firms recently told employees they will not be allowed into the office after Passover if they lack a “Green Pass” certificate verifying they have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, according to Channel 13 news.

The companies also reportedly said they would soon limit remote work options.

The subsidiaries who said they will enforce the Green Pass or negative test requirement included internet provider Bezeq International, satellite TV provider Yes and cellphone operator Pelephone.

“An employee assigned to work at company facilities who does not present a Green Pass or negative coronavirus test will not be permitted an alternative of working from home. In such a case, the employee will take a vacation day at his own expense,” a Pelephone letter sent to employees was quoted as saying.

A Yes television satellite (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The reported warning to workers came a day after a labor court ruled a school can prevent unvaccinated employees who refuse to have regular COVID-19 tests from coming to work, determining that the children’s safety takes precedence over staff’s rights.

The ruling came in the case of a teaching assistant at a school in the town of Tzur Yigal in central Israel, who appealed against the local council’s decision to demand that all education staff members either get vaccinated or take regular coronavirus tests as a condition for coming to work.

The Tel Aviv court ruled that the teaching assistant, Sigal Avishai, will not go back to work and won’t receive payment.

Judge Meirav Kleiman ruled that in weighing Avishai’s right to privacy and personal autonomy against the right of students, parents and staff to avoid the risk of getting COVID-19, the balance “tips clearly” in favor of the latter.

“This is a welcome precedent that will have an effect on the entire economy,” commented Naama Shabtay Bahar, a lawyer specializing in employment laws who represented the Kochav Ya’ir-Tzur Yigal Local Council.

“The labor court struck the correct balance between workers’ rights and the interest of the general public,” she told the Globes business daily. “Every employee has the right to vaccinate or not. But every employee also has to bear responsibility for that decision. The responsibility definitely shouldn’t be placed on the employers, whose goal is to protect their employees and the general public served by them.”

A student receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the Amal high school in the southern city of Beersheba, March 17, 2021 (Flash90)

Earlier this month, the High Court issued a temporary injunction barring the Health Ministry from handing local authorities information on those who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The court also instructed state bodies and health providers to explain why legislation allowing the ministry to do so has not been scrapped.

The controversial law, which was approved last month by the Knesset, authorizes the Health Ministry to transfer data to municipalities and the Education Ministry for a three-month period. The legislation is aimed at encouraging the unvaccinated to be immunized and prohibits the use of the information for other purposes.

In their decision, the judges cited the laws “harming of the constitutional right to privacy” guaranteed in Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws.

According to the latest Health Ministry figures, over 4.5 million Israelis have received both vaccine doses, with the country continuing to lead the world by far in inoculations per capita.

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