New bill would limit unemployment benefits for those fired for refusing vaccine

Legislation introduced by Finance Ministry says those dismissed for not getting vaccinated will be viewed as having resigned on own accord, won’t receive benefits for 90 days

(Vaccine refusal image via iStock)
(Vaccine refusal image via iStock)

A new bill circulated by the Finance Ministry on Monday seeks to strip some unemployment benefits from employees fired for refusing to get vaccinated.

According to the draft legislation, if an employee is fired for refusing the vaccine or to carry out regular tests as required in order to receive the Green Pass, they will be deemed to have resigned on their own accord and will only be eligible for unemployment benefits 90 days after leaving their jobs.

Under Israeli law people who are fired are entitled to 90 days compensation from employers, while people resigning forgo the benefit.

“In light of the Health Ministry’s determination that in workplaces where there is a multiplicity of risk-increasing risk factors both for the workers themselves as well as those with whom they come in contact, there is an epidemiological justification for applying a Green Pass to reduce these risks,” a version of the bill obtained by the Globes business daily reads.

The draft explains that part of the legislation’s goal is to avoid incentivizing anyone considering not getting vaccinated in order to receive unemployment benefits.

Those who are placed on unpaid leave will be considered to have attained that status of their own volition, thereby limiting the benefits they’re eligible to receive, the bill also states.

The bill was circulated hours before the start of the Sukkot holiday on Monday evening in an apparent attempt to minimize blowback.

A client seeks work at an unemployment office in Jerusalem (Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
A client seeks work at an unemployment office in Jerusalem (Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The timing was similar to legislation expanding the authorities of the Shin Bet security service in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus. A draft of that law was circulated on the eve of the Shavuot holiday last spring and faced significant public outcry.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman has pushed for sweeping changes to the existing unemployment model in order to push people — particularly the young — to return to work.

Benefits had been significantly expanded to help deal with the disruptions caused by the pandemic and frequent lockdowns.

Figures from the National Insurance Institute published in July showed that Israel has paid out more than NIS 39 billion ($12 billion) in unemployment benefits since the start of the COVID outbreak. The benefits were paid out to 1.2 million Israelis who lost their income due to the pandemic.

The unemployment model enacted in March 2020 came to an end after the Knesset voted in July to update the program and significantly cut back on benefits.

According to the National Insurance Institute, anyone who became unemployed after July 1 will be assessed according to the standard unemployment laws that existed pre-COVID. But the period of time an employee must have worked before being able to claim unemployment was lowered from 12 months to six months.


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