The questions cover ageism, maternity leave, severance pay and overtime for part-timers. The answers are the result of followups to the JobMob Pro Chat with Israeli Payroll Specialist Moshe Egel-Tal.
In some cases the names have been changed.
Bena asks: I was wondering whether it is illegal for prospective employers (or employment agencies) to ask your age even before they interview you or even consider you for a prospective position with a company.
I have had numerous situations where my qualifications are clearly listed on my C.V., including years I graduated undergrad and grad school and still the prospective employer or head hunter here will ask me my age claiming that it is relevant to my level of experience. When I refuse to give it they basically do not contact me again. How legal is it to ask that question?
Moshe replies: This is a problem that is hard to work around because of the way employers in Israel do things. It is illegal by law to discriminate against workers or potential candidates because of their age. This is specifically listed in the wording of the Equal Opportunities at Work Law (PDF) from 1988 (section 2 a).
What you can do is file a complaint with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. Ask for the Natziv Ezori's (area commissioner) phone number and address. Make sure you have the name of the company, name of the person who interviewed you (even if it was via telephone) and the date and time.
It is hard to prove as they can always make excuses and say that your other credentials didn't fit what they were looking for. Also even if the commission finds your claims valid, they (the hiring company) will get a fine and probably continue. Know that this type of employer isn't a very serious one and you would probably be better off elsewhere anyhow.
Noa asks: Is it illegal to ask someone their age when applying for a job and if so, can you point me to the law/statute/code, etc. which states this?
Moshe replies: It is illegal. This is specifically listed in the wording of the Equal Opportunities at Work Law (Hebrew) from 1988. (section 2 a).
Sarah asks: I am on an extended maternity leave, i.e., I took the paid 14 weeks and then extended it. Now I don't want to return to my job. I understand that if it is within 9 months of the birth, I can resign from my job and still receive severance pay.
What do I need to do? Is it enough to just tell them that I am not returning or must I actually be staying at home to care for my baby?
My understanding is that then I need to sign up for unemployment for 3 months (without receiving anything) and then if I am still unemployed (yes, I am looking for a new job, but that is the subject of another post), then I will start receiving payments after 3 months.
Moshe replies: All you need to do is write a letter to your employer stating that you hereby resign from your position in order to take care of your baby. Keep the letter short and precise and you shouldn't add anything else. The letter should be dated, signed and you should fax it as well as send it by registered mail to the company's HR dept. It would be a good idea to notify your boss/superior/employer personally by phone, especially if you may need a reference in the future.
The law specifically states that when a woman on maternity leave resigns her position in order to take care of her baby within 9 months of birth, her resignation will be seen as termination for purposes of receiving severance pay.
Whether you sign up for unemployment compensation is irrelevant and not connected. Severance pay needs to be paid to you within 30 days of receipt of your letter.
Pnina asks: As part of my compensation, I am paid a salary and also have a company car. When I go on maternity leave, what happens regarding the car?
- Do I get to keep the car for the period of paid maternity leave?
- What if I take a longer maternity leave than the paid period?
- If I do not keep the car, do I get some compensation for the value that the car is part of my normal pay? Would that come from Bituach Leumi? How do I put this into action? For example, if my pay is 5000 shekels a month (it isn't), and I'm taxed on the value of the car benefit of 2000 shekels, and I don't get to keep the car during leave, would it be possible for my salary to be approximately 7000 shekels according to Bituach Leumi?
- Do you know of a link to a website that provides this information/or the law (English or Hebrew)?
Moshe replies: First of all you should know that the amounts (your monthly salary) listed on the application form for Maternity Leave Compensation from Bituach Leumi are your gross pay (i.e. before taxes) this also includes the worth of the car benefit – and rightly so because you also pay Bituach Leumi on that amount as well.
This isn't covered by law but rather you should check if your contract with your employer covers this subject or ask HR what the policy is, you can also ask other workers who were absent for prolonged periods of time what the company did with them. If they leave the car with you, you will need to pay taxes on the benefit when you return to work.
If the company's policy is for you to return it, that is legal and their right – it's their car and they give it as a benefit to come to and from work. so if you aren't working they can ask you to return it.
Overtime for part-timers
Aharon asks: I work half-time at a local university. If I work too many hours they see it as a donation of my time. If I work too few hours they penalize me. It seems to be a double standard in favor of the employer and against the employee. Is it fair practice not to recognize the extra hours and only penalize for the missed hours? Everyone tells me this is how every place of employment functions. By extra hours I mean half-an-hour to one-and-a-half hours extra several days a week. Small amounts add up considerably by the time a month's wages are calculated. Should I just accept this or is this actually not acceptable but no one dares to make a fuss and lose their job in the process?
I wouldn't mind working longer hours, but If I am only hired for a half-time position, isn't the university getting more than they are willing to actually pay for if I work the same hours expected of a two-thirds or even a three-quarters salary worker but only get paid a half-salary wage? If two-thirds and three-quarters salary worker and full-time workers all work longer hours than they are paid for then perhaps I have no basis for complaining.
It just seems like a double standard in favor of the employer and I want to know if this is fair practice or a violation of Israeli labor law?
Moshe replies: In order to answer your question I need more information as to your terms of employment. While I understand your feelings of being worked over twice, the issue isn't a flat out yes or no answer and is a bit more complex: in general there are many types of contracts, some are labor union or sectoral (such as doctors or nurses or teachers) others are individual personal contracts and some are verbal agreements.
The question is whether your employer pays overtime or not. Some employers say flat out that they will not pay overtime. Telling you this up front (whether verbally or specifically in a written work contract) is legal in the fact that you need to get your job done in the specified amount of hours your position specifies and at the same time keep a heads up on the time so that you aren't “donating” time. On the other hand there are employers who will only pay overtime hours that were approved in advance. There are also employers who pay overtime by law (125% for the first 2 hours each day and 150% for any additional hours).
As for deducting hours: If you haven't put in the hours you need to know this is legal and most companies do this.
There are also contracts that specify a global salary. This means that you receive a certain amount and it is for doing the job regardless of how long it takes you – this would usually mean that they won't pay you overtime or deduct hours for missing time.
Stephanie asks: What is Israel's legal statute of limitations for an employer vis a vis paying pitzuim/severance to a terminated employee? How long after firing the employee should the severance package be forthcoming, by law?
Moshe replies: within 30 days
Sheila asks: I have been in my job for 18 years. About a month before Passover a new girl was employed and told to sit at my desk. Nothing was said to me at all about this. The new girl, Jenny, was most embarrassed when she realised what the situation was, and by working part of each day at another table we managed to share the desk and computer. We were due to move into our old building which was being renovated just before Passover. We decided to wait and see what would happen, though having seen the new premises while they were being renovated, I couldn't see a place that was being prepared for me, which when we moved proved to be the case. Due to the extreme kindness of one of my colleagues, I can use his room when he's not there, which is fairly often. However, I haven't got access to an email and am unable to print from his computer. I have written a letter to my boss pointing out the impossibility of my being able to work in this way. He told me that he is aware of the situation, that a solution will be found, but that he's too busy at the moment to deal with it.
Several people of told me that if I chose to leave I will be entitled to full pitzium because my working conditions have been made impossible. Is this the case and, if so, how do I set the ball in motion?
Moshe replies: I would say that this clearly is a “worsening of working conditions” (see the definition in How To Quit Your Israeli Job and Still Receive Severance Pay). A lot of employers use this tactic in trying to force an employee out, thinking that if the employee resigns they won't have to pay severance pay. The employee should write a letter stating that her work conditions have been worsened as stated in her previous letter (state them explicitly) and that this was all done behind her back without notifying her of their intentions and thus making her working conditions impossible and due to the company's inability to solve the problem she therefore resigns her position and requests full severance pay.
About the author
Moshe Egel-Tal is a certified senior payroll professional (CSPP) with over 20 years experience in the finance field. He has vast experience in payroll instruction to end users, setup and implementation of payroll departments and fine-tuning payroll processes for companies. Moshe has lectured at university on labor laws in HR managers' courses and at payroll comptrollers' courses. Born in Chicago, Moshe made aliya in 1978 and resides with his wife and 3 sons in Jerusalem. Get Moshe's book “Tax Benefits for Salaried Employees in Israel“.