Sundays-off bill is dead ‘unless labor laws reformed’
A senior government official says that an initiative to implement several long weekends a year will not advance unless the Histadrut labor federation is willing to allow substantial reform to the Law for Work and Rest Hours.
A committee headed by Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office Eli Groner to examine the possibility of instituting several long weekends a year recently completed its work and presented its recommendations to the cabinet on Sunday.
According to Groner, it was broadly proposed that up to four Sundays a year be designated as public vacation days.
However, it was argued that the measure would lead to a decrease in productivity and create extra costs for Israeli businesses due to the extra days off.
As such, the government will not be willing to advance legislation on the issue unless the Histadrut allows the Law for Work and Rest Hours to be reformed.
“Two to four Sundays off a year for Israelis could be a wonderful blessing, but we cannot ignore the burden of the lost productivity and the extra vacation days which will come out to billions of shekels a year and would end up being shouldered by Israeli businesses,” Groner told The Jerusalem Post.
“Businesses both large and small have been a convenient political punching bag for populist politicians, and this government is unwilling to keep playing along,” Groner said. “Therefore as much as I’d love to see Sunday’s off implemented, I can’t, in good faith, recommend doing so unless there were to be changes in tandem to the very outdated Law for Work and Rest Hours.
“When the unions are willing to talk to us about that, then we’re willing to open up the possibility of having two to four Sundays off a year in Israel.”
The Histadrut did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Kulanu MK Eli Cohen has proposed legislation to institute long weekends, arguing that the 43-hour work week in Israel is longer than the 40-hour average of the OECD.
Cohen has said that the longer work week is actually detrimental to Israeli productivity, and also harms the balance between work and family life.
According to OECD statistics, productivity in Israel per working hour is significantly lower than the OECD average.
“Long weekends would dramatically change working life and would provide many benefits, including reducing worker fatigue, bettering the balance between work and family life, improving quality of life, and would increase commerce and tourism,” said Cohen.