The Finance Ministry has proposed a NIS 6 billion plan to combat unemployment by paying businesses NIS 7,500 for each employee they take back to work next month.
The unemployment rate in Israel skyrocketed to over 27 percent in late April due to virus restrictions — equaling over 1 million people out of work. Despite the government allowing most business to reopen over the last several weeks, the unemployment rate remains at 24.4%, according to government figures.
The program gives the full NIS 7,500 to businesses that take back employees from unpaid leave as of June 1, while businesses that took employees back to work as of May 1 will receive half that sum.
On Wednesday, restaurants, bars, hotels and pools are slated to reopen, in a move expected to bring thousands back to work.
However, some business owners have complained that virus regulations may make it impossible for them to return to pre-pandemic levels of service, and many establishments are expected to keep some staff on unpaid leave.
Over 14,500 people returned to work on Tuesday, but the number of jobseekers increased by 938.
Since lockdown regulations began to be eased on April 19, the employment service has reported that some 195,000 people have returned to work from unpaid leave, while in the same period some 102,000 new jobseekers have registered with the service.
Finance Minister Israel Katz said the program was “simple and effective and was aimed at getting over one million unemployed back to work as quickly as possible and to get the economy back to rapid growth.”
Any employees with a salary of at least NIS 3,300 and working at least half-time will count toward the grant.
The sums will be paid in four installments over a period of four months.
The government will also allocate a further NIS 500 million for vocational training programs.
The state has already allocated tens of billions of shekels in compensation for business and the self-employed, as well as having to pay out billions of shekels in unemployment benefits.