The corona has trampled on labor laws, and the extent of dismissal of pregnant women is skyrocketing

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A cleaning worker in one of the luxurious office buildings in Tel Aviv, thought he had managed to evade the destructive effects of the economic corona. While most of his co-workers were taken on sick leave (unpaid leave) or transferred by the manpower company where they work to another location, cleaning worker B was left to work at the same workplace and the same job as before the government restrictions imposed in the shadow of the virus spreading.

Women suffer from discrimination even without the corona, the crisis has exacerbated their situation Chen Maanit

Then came to B. the monthly pay slip, and he realized that his joy was premature: a perusal of the slip revealed to him that his employer had stopped allocating for him to the pension fund the full amount of money to which he was legally obliged. The same thing happened in the following months, and all the time he heard promises that this was a temporary malfunction resulting from the confusion that occurred due to the corona crisis, which will be fixed very soon.

The economic corona continues to hit the job market, putting it back years. As can be seen from announcements from a number of workers’ organizations that have been circulating in recent weeks and conversations with lawyers in the field of labor law conducted by “Globes”, B. is not alone. Especially in the days when the weakest workers in the economy need protection more than ever, and while many employers allow themselves to break labor laws more than in the past – the enforcement administration in the labor arm of the Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Services has become almost completely paralyzed. The administration, which routinely guarantees the basic rights of hundreds of thousands of workers in the economy, with an emphasis on the weakest of them, is now forced to leave exploited workers facing a broken trough.

The corona has fatally damaged labor law enforcement

12 financial sanctions since the beginning of the corona

According to government decisions over the years, the populations that the Enforcement Administration is supposed to address by imposing administrative financial sanctions on law-abiding employers are those earning the lowest wages in the economy: contractor workers, guards, cleaners, ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors, foreign workers and non-unionized workers.

In recent years, enforcement among construction workers has also escalated, and extensive proactive enforcement activities have even been carried out in the area of ​​employer contributions to pensions. The laws that administrative enforcement focuses on are mostly “wage influencers” laws, such as the Minimum Wage Law, the Working Hours and Rest Law, and so on.

However, data published by the Labor Ministry’s Labor Department shows that since the outbreak of the Corona crisis, administrative enforcement and sanctions against employers who have violated cogent labor laws have been almost completely stopped (laws that cannot be changed by law, either through a personal contract or in any other way. ).

All this, in stark contrast to the trend that has characterized the firm’s enforcement data in recent years. The fines and financial sanctions increased to 3,283 sanctions imposed on employers in the amount of NIS 172 million in 2019.

Compared to 2018, this is a jump of about 450% in the number of sanctions (729 in 2018), and of a little more than 200% in the total amount of sanctions (NIS 82 million).

Then came the year 2020 and brought with it the corona crisis. Although the year is still in full swing, it is already clear that enforcement data for this year will be dramatically lower than in previous years, as also confirmed to “Globes” by officials in the Ministry of Labor.

Thus, in the nine months that have passed so far since the beginning of 2020, only 54 financial sanctions have been imposed, and only 12 of them have been imposed during the last six months.

When we asked why precisely now there is a steep decline in labor law enforcement data, at the height of a severe economic crisis that also affects employers’ motivation to keep labor laws and the rights of their employees derived from them, we were surprised to find that despite its clear importance, Donkey of manpower. Our investigation shows that today only 55% of the standards allocated to labor inspectors in the administration are staffed.

According to Meir David, head of the Ministry of Labor’s enforcement and regulation department, “The almost complete cessation of administrative enforcement is the result of an acute need to treat the workers affected by the Corona crisis, who in the light of the ‘short blanket’ had no choice but to divert administration staff. Enforcement. “

He said, “Currently the Enforcement Administration is functioning with a manpower shortage of 38 inspectors compared to what it had in previous years, so 86 standards were amended for the benefit of labor law inspectors.” There were workers who left, and we did not get a replacement for them. When you have less than 38 supervisors, you can enforce less. “
“Recently, the situation has even worsened with the departure of a number of additional workers, and at the same time there has been a flood of requests to take out women’s in protected periods (pregnant women and maternity leave, MB), due to the corona crisis.

“In the last week alone, we have received over 720 requests to send pregnant women on maternity leave to maternity leave, and since the beginning of the crisis, we have stood at 15,000 such requests.”

According to the information provided to “Globes”, about 90% of the applications for maternity leave for pregnant women or women on maternity leave submitted by employers during the Corona period were approved. This is in light of the fact that these are applications from businesses that closed due to the crisis and fired or expelled additional employees. Only women are protected.

How many such requests are received today in the year, pre-Corona crisis?
“In a normal year we receive on average throughout the year about 1,000 applications from employers for expenditure on sick leave or dismissal of pregnant or maternity leave women. We had no choice, we had to divert most of the manpower that would handle these requests. Under the circumstances that have arisen, the population of protected women has become a population that needs increased protection, so its main business these days is in protecting them. If we were not there for them, many women would be harmed. “

“All requests to close manpower gaps have been denied”

And what happens in the meantime with the rest of the weak and disorganized workers in the economy, such as cleaning and maintenance workers and other groups of workers who are usually employed through manpower companies?
According to David, “We continued with enforcement actions only in cases where there was a real suspicion of violations, and in cases where we had already found violations in the past.

“The main impact is that I have not carried out any proactive enforcement since March – which in the days since the amendment makes up 60% of our total enforcement operations. These days, I have to deal with only a small proportion of complaints,” he adds.

Is the acute shortage of supervisors a result of budgetary problems?
“From the beginning of 2019, since there was no permanent government, and now in 2020 when there is no budget – every recruitment I want to do has to go through the Exceptions Committee in the Treasury. To this day for a year and a half the Exceptions Committee in the Treasury approved Our requests to close the gaps in the workforce have been rejected. “

And if there was manpower – was there anything to take care of? Maybe because there are more unemployed workers and there is also a decrease in the need to enforce labor laws?
“There is no dramatic increase in the number of complaints, but there is also no decrease. There is a lot to deal with.”





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