High Court strikes down 6-1 regulations aimed at encouraging foreign workers to leave

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Foreign workers working in the fields near the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, November 13, 2016. (Yaakov Lederman/FLASH90)
Foreign workers working in the fields near the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, November 13, 2016. (Yaakov Lederman/FLASH90)

The High Court of Justice strikes down regulations passed in 2016 by a Knesset committee that strip a foreign worker of social welfare payments, which are automatically deducted from their salary and put on deposit for them, if they fail to leave the country after their work visa expires.

In a 6-1 ruling, the High Court says that the regulations disproportionately violate the constitutional property rights of foreign workers, and orders the Knesset and relevant government ministers to formulate a new arrangement within six months before the current regulations are abolished.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut says that the purpose of the deduction mechanism to increase the incentive of foreign workers to leave Israel at the end of their legal stay in Israel is an “appropriate purpose,” but points out that the state “did not present a single example of a country where migrant workers may lose their pension funds if they leave the country late.”

Justice Noam Sohlberg in his dissent writes that the foreign workers’ property rights are not infringed by the arrangement since they agree to these conditions before entering the country and because the salary deductions are lost when they fail to leave the country in accordance with the regulations.

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