As a result of the recent terrorist attacks in Israel and the resulting Israel-Hamas war, Israelis continue to be called upon for active duty under Israel’s emergency call-up notice. Global employers with operations and/or employees in Israel should become familiar with the emergency orders in place and the applicable employment developments to best support their employees and comply with local obligations.
Israel’s Compulsory Military Service
Israel’s military operates under a system of reserve forces known as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Military service is compulsory for Jewish Israeli citizens over the age of 18, requiring men to serve for a minimum of 32 months and women to serve for a minimum of 24 months. After completing compulsory service, citizens are transitioned into the IDF reserves, subject to recall for active duty in times of need. Because Israel is currently under a state of emergency, an emergency call-up notice (Order 8) has been issued for the immediate enlistment of most IDF reservists to report for active duty for an indefinite timeframe.
Continuation of Salary and Benefits for Active Military
While employees are engaged in Israeli military service, they are entitled to salary continuation at their normal rate of pay. The National Insurance Institute (NII) reimburses employers for the reserve service benefits paid to employees as required under the law. To receive reimbursement for the benefits, an employer should submit a claim (available here) to its local NII branch. The benefit due to employees is considered equal to their salary, and an employer must pay the benefit on the regular salary payment dates. If the NII reimbursements are higher than the employee’s typical salary payment, the employer must forward any difference to the employee.
Statutory and contractual benefits should also be continued while the employee is engaged in military service unless the benefit is no longer applicable (e.g., on-site work benefits, travel expenses).
Employees are protected against termination while engaged in reserve service and for 30 days thereafter unless a special permit is obtained. Further, the Law for Protection for Workers in Times of Emergency (the Law) prohibits employers from firing an employee who is absent from work due to compliance with instructions arising from “special conditions” implemented by the Minister of Defense. “Special conditions” include employees who are absent because they must supervise a child living with them under age 14. Many areas in Israel currently have prohibitions against attending the workplace for safety reasons, and schools are also closed. Therefore, many employees are confined to their homes with their children, and employers cannot penalize workers for these absences.
The Work During Emergencies Act, however, allows employers to require employees to be present at the workplace if it has been declared an “essential organization.”
The Law does not specify whether absent employees are entitled to salary continuation, but past emergency situations have indicated that collective agreements will be entered into retroactively and it is, therefore, recommended to do so.
Employers should consider reviewing and revising their military leave policies, as well as bereavement policies, flexible working, and mental health resource offerings to best provide support to employees during this time.
For more information, please contact the Faegre Drinker lawyers listed above. We will continue to report on these developments for employers on LaborSphere.
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