The sick pay accumulated in the fund belongs to Palestinian workers and must be returned to them

MAAN Workers Association presented this position paper to an Inter Governmental Committee headed by the Israeli Ministry of Justice. The Paper was presented in response to a call regarding sick pay for Palestinian workers employed in Israel, that was published by the Ministry of Finance on July 7, 2022.

MA’AN – Workers’ Association, a registered non-profit organization, has been working for two decades to protect Palestinian workers employed in the Israeli labor market, to defend their rights and organize them in workers’ committees.

As part of the organization’s extensive field work, we are exposed to thousands of employee testimonies. Our position presented here is based on these testimonies and is supported by the statements of three Palestinian workers who were employed in Israel during the relevant period. The workers’ statements illustrate how the rights of workers employed in Israel while they were sick were denied. As noted, these are not exceptional cases and reflect reports we encountered on a daily basis. Reading the evidence leaves no room for doubt that the authorities must return the accumulated sick fund monies to the employees, and not use them for infrastructures that should be financed from the authorities’ own budgets and not from the workers’ sick funds, as detailed below:

  1. The starting point for our position is the fact that sick pay fund monies should have been paid to the employees in real time, i.e., when they were working and were sick.
  2. The fact that sick pay was not used does not mean Palestinian workers were sick for fewer days than Israeli workers, but that the authorities did not make existence of the fund and procedures for accessing it during illness known to workers. It is clear from testimonies of employees that:
    1. they were sick.
    1. during their illnesses they did not receive compensation for absence from work.
    1. they didn’t know about the existence of this fund, and those who knew didn’t know how to access it.
  3. The authorities should have acted in real time to create mechanisms that would allow the workers to receive their rights, make information available to them, and actively and effectively ensure that the right to sick pay from the fund is realized. None of this was done.
  4. We will not detail here all the authorities’ failures regarding management of the sick fund, including the unfortunate fact that funds deposited in it were not invested such that the insured employees would have benefited. This information is detailed in a High Court petition (HCP 5918-16 Kav Laoved et al. v. the Government of Israel et al).
  5. Now that hundreds of millions of shekels have accumulated in the fund – money that originates from abusive employment – it is unreasonable that the authorities will receive a financial reward for their failures and use funds intended for sick workers to establish infrastructures that should be financed from the state budget.
  6. The only ones who should benefit from these funds are those employees, who are the sole victims of the fund’s management failures.
  7. Since there is a real difficulty in retroactively calculating the number of sick days to which each and every employee is entitled, it seems there is no choice but to divide the funds based on statistical data of workers in Israel (The calculation should be done according to the average days of sick leave of workers in the Israel).
  8. We are also opposed to the intention to allow employers to pay workers for sick days they did not take in the period up to 12.31.2018 from this fund. Such a move could be an opening for employers to make use of today’s entitlements to demand compensation for past entitlements. To the extent the model we propose is accepted, each employee will receive an average compensation according to his period of work through the end of 2018. An employee who did not receive compensation for sick days for this period will now receive it as part of the arrangement to be established, and there is no point in transferring these funds through the employers.

Employee testimonies

Muhammad Dib Hamuda, age 62, resident of the village of Kobeyba near Ramallah, Palestinian Authority, ID number 985871482. “I work at the RS Food Marketing and Production Ltd. factory in the Atarot Industrial Zone from 2012. In 2016 I was sick for a month and had to be absent from work. I asked my employer to pay me for the sick days, but he refused. I didn’t know that I deserved compensation from the sick pay fund. The employer didn’t tell me anything about it. I talked to older employees and what I understood from them is there is no payment for sick days.”

Ali Abdullah Abdel Baki, age 48, resident of Tulkarm, Palestinian Authority, ID number 906143177. “I have been working since 2009 at a company called A.Y. Nevo in the city of Netanya. In 2015 I took a 32-day sick leave. Most of the sick days were in one month in which I received a salary of only NIS 1,300 (about a quarter of my regular salary). I contacted my manager more than once regarding sick pay, but never received a referral or details on how to access the sick pay fund, the existence of which I didn’t even know about.”

Nizam Debaina, age 45, resident of Hebron in the Palestinian Authority, ID number 907624571. “I have been working in Israel in the construction industry since 2000 with pay slips. I have worked in various companies, including Dania Sibus. I have never received paid sick leave. The managers of the companies I worked for told me I had no right to receive sick days. I had no idea there was such a thing as a sick pay fund.”

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אנא כתבו את שמכם המלא, טלפון ותיאור קצר של נושא הפנייה, ונציג\ה של מען יחזרו אליכם בהקדם האפשרי.

رجاءً اكتبوا اسمكم الكامل، الهاتف، ووصف قصير حول موضوع توجهكم، ومندوب عن نقابة معًا سيعاود الاتصال بكم لاحقًا








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