On Monday, the Finance Ministry circulated a new bill, which seeks to strip unemployment benefits from people who have been fired for refusing to get vaccinated. The draft legislation states that if an employee is fired because of their refusal to get the vaccine or to get tested regularly, as required for receiving the Green Pass, then their termination will be considered as the resignation of their own accord. Therefore, they will not get unemployment benefits for 90 days after they have left the job. According to the laws in Israel, people who get fired are entitled to get compensation from employers for 90 days, whereas those who resign forgo this benefit.
A version of the bill said that the Green Pass was applicable in workplaces where the Health Ministry determines that there are a number of risk-increasing factors, not just for the workers, but also for those who come into contact with them. The draft also elaborated that part of the goal of this legislation is to prevent giving anyone incentives to get unemployment benefits if they are not going to get vaccinated. Those who have been granted unpaid leave will be regarded as having gotten the status of their own volition, which means the benefits they get will also be limited.
This new bill was circulated hours before the beginning of the Sukkot holiday in Israel on Monday evening in a clear attempt to cut down the blowback. The timing appeared to be similar to the legislation that expanded the authorities of country’s Shin Bet security services for curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Last Spring, a draft of that particular legislation had been circulated just before the beginning of the Shavuot holiday and had received significant public outcry. Avigdor Liberman, the Finance Minister, has pushed for making sweeping changes to the existing model of unemployment.
The goal is to encourage people, especially young ones, to get back to work. There had been a significant expansion in benefits for helping in dealing with the disruptions that were caused by frequent lockdowns and the pandemic itself. In July, the National Insurance Institute published some figures, which showed that more than NIS 39 billion, which is around $12 billion, had been paid out in Israel in the form of unemployment benefits since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. The benefits had been given to around 1.2 million Israeli citizens who had suffered from a loss of income because of the pandemic.
In March 2020, the unemployment model had come to an end after a vote by Knesset in July for updating the program and cutting back on the benefits significantly. The National Insurance Institute said that anyone who gets fired after July 1st will be assessed according to the standard laws that were applicable before the pandemic. However, the period of time for an employee to have worked to claim unemployment benefits was reduced to six months from 12 months that it had been before, considering the pandemic conditions.