Categories
Employment in Israel

Resources on Employee Rights

Do you know your rights as an employee? We recommend having a general working knowledge of the employment laws in Israel. Employees who are not well-versed in their rights can be taken advantage of, and this can easily happen to olim who don’t ask the right questions (or ask the right people).

Additionally, there can be specific issues that you need in-depth information on, such as the intricacies of termination, maternity pay and pensions. Our goal here is to provide as much helpful information as possible, but if you need greater detail, here’s how to get it.

The Kol Zechut (All Rights) website is partially translated from the Hebrew site and includes many articles on all aspects of legal rights, from health and disability to immigrants and old age. There are numerous articles about employment issues, such as pensions, National Insurance, income tax, labor laws and more.

Kav LaOved is an Israeli nonprofit organization which provides individual help to employees who suspect that their rights have been violated or who want to better understand their circumstances. The organization has office hours and a hotline and can also be contacted via email. The website provides some English language brochures about topics such as work accidents, hourly workers and women’s rights in the workplace.

For more general information, see Nefesh B’Nefesh’s online article on Employee Benefits. This article covers some of the basics of the employee-employer relationship and Israel labor laws.

The Human Resources representative at your company is also a useful resource. In larger companies, there may be an entire HR department, but even in smaller companies, someone is in charge of HR. If you don’t know who that is, ask. The HR representative should be able to explain your pay stub, assist with specific questions and provide you with necessary forms. 

There is strength in community. You can easily get answers to employment questions by posting on olim social media groups, especially those that are dedicated to career discussions. Of course, not all these answers will be accurate, so take them with a grain of salt, but there is often a consensus on legalities and processes which can point you in the right direction. These groups can also provide firsthand experience of other olim, which is often invaluable.

Knowledge is power and this is certainly true in the realm of employee rights. Awareness can help you choose the right job, get what you deserve in your job and leave a job in the right way.

Categories
Employment in Israel

How to Get a Job in Israel

One of the biggest challenges of moving to any new country is finding a job and aliyah to Israel is no exception. It can be daunting to seek employment in a country where the norms are different from your home country, the primary language is Hebrew and everyone else seems to know each other. But have no fear; many olim are gainfully employed in Israel and you can be too.

Resume/CV

Your first step in your job search is to create a resume (or CV as it tends to be called here) that fits Israeli standards. CVs should be one page long and include a list of skills above your experience and education. If you’ve had many jobs, remove the oldest ones and the least relevant to the job you are applying for, so you can keep to the one page format. 

Whether you need a Hebrew CV is dependent on the industry you work in and the type of job you are looking for. Even many Israelis submit English CVs, especially in the hi-tech industry. It’s best to ask around in your industry (you can easily do this on a Facebook or LinkedIn group if you don’t personally know anyone who works in the field) to find out what language your CV should be in.

Until recently, CVs always included personal information like marital status, children and home address, so you might be told to add these to your CV. But most experts in job hunting are now recommending against this, since these personal details can cause prejudice.

When sending a CV to a company, include a cover letter in your email of up to 5 sentences, detailing why you are the right person for this job. Your cover letter should be tailored to the job you are applying for, so send a different one for each application. 

It’s important to have references prepared as companies will often ask for them. If there’s no room on your CV to list them, you can leave them out, but make sure that you have names ready and that you have asked for permission to share their contact information. Be sure to add a line on your CV that says “References available upon request.” If you are asked for references, provide names, phone numbers and email addresses.

Job Postings

One place to search for a job is online. There are a number of Hebrew job posting websites (some may require a paid membership) and the Nefesh B’Nefesh Job Board and Janglo website list jobs that are geared specifically to olim, many not requiring any Hebrew. Jobs are also listed on Facebook and LinkedIn groups, especially those catering to English speakers. Cities with large Anglo populations tend to have local Facebook groups which may have job opportunities and there are also groups devoted to job postings and career advice.

“Protexia”

It’s true that a lot of Israelis find jobs through relatives and old army buddies. You may not have those, but you might have friends who made aliyah before you, acquaintances who are willing to lend a hand and Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections who are happy to support fellow olim. Put yourself out there by calling and posting on social media about the kind of job you are looking for. This is commonly done by Israelis, whether they are looking for their first job or have left their previous job for whatever reason. You may hear about positions that haven’t been advertised yet or get your CV on the top of the pile because of a personal recommendation, so this is well worth doing.

Reaching Out to Companies Directly

If there’s a company you would like to work for, you can reach out directly to their HR department and ask if they are hiring. Even if they aren’t, they will often keep your CV on file and contact you later if an appropriate position becomes available.

Working for a Foreign Company

If you have previously worked in a company with offices around the world, find out if there’s an Israeli office you can apply to work at. You might even be able to transfer your existing position to the Israeli office. It is also possible to work for a company outside of Israel, if they are comfortable with hiring a remote employee. Many olim work from home or in a shared workspace for a company based in their home country. 

This won’t always work, since many local subsidiaries of global companies are not interested in putting an employee of a foreign subsidiary on their books due to factors such as budget, headcount restrictions and payroll imbalance. It never hurts to ask, though!

Headhunters, Career Consultants and HR Companies

Depending on your industry, you may find that a headhunter can help match you with a position that’s right for you. Headhunters specialize in helping companies (usually large ones) find the right employee. They are paid by the firm which is hiring and do not take payment from job seekers.

Career consultants help people navigate the job search. They are paid for their time and expertise, regardless of whether you find a job. According to Marna Becker of MRB Consulting, career consultants can help you by sharing their built-in network, improving your CV, boosting your networking skills and troubleshooting why you’re having trouble finding a job.

Career consultants are especially useful if you are looking for your first job in Israel, don’t have a strong network here and are not familiar with the norms and company culture in the country. They are also helpful if you’re just entering the workforce and need help deciding what profession to pursue based on your skillset, personality traits etc. Additionally, a career consultant can be of great assistance if you’re contemplating a career change and aren’t sure what you want to do or how to transfer your skills to a new field.

There are also human resource companies which specialize in placing employees in positions. Be aware that these companies are sometimes also the employers, and the salary and perks of the job may differ from those offered to the employees of the company proper. 

When to Apply

If you’re making aliyah now, be aware that Israeli companies tend to want their employees to start sooner rather than later, so searching for a job months before moving to Israel is likely to be futile. Use that time to check out the job market in your field and make some connections, and start applying shortly before aliyah or once you are already here.

If you are currently employed in Israel, make sure you know how much notice you need to give your current employer, so you don’t end up in a situation where you can’t take a job you were offered due to an early start time. (The notice period is generally a month if you have worked at a job for at least a year.) If you’re on maternity leave, start looking for work close to when you are willing to start a new job. 

An exception to this rule is if you are in a field where contracts are on a set schedule, like education. Conventional wisdom is to start searching for a position in education around Pesach time, in order to start in September.

The Interview

Job interviews are often less formal and this can take some olim by surprise. Questions might range from the professional to the personal, and don’t be surprised if there’s some Jewish geography mixed in. Candidates are often asked what their salary expectations are. You can sometimes turn the question on them and get them to tell you what they want to pay, but this won’t always work, so be prepared with a range and be open to negotiation. 

Job hunting in Israel may take some time, but the jobs are out there and you can certainly find one. Wishing you a successful and smooth job search!

Categories
Employment in Israel

Vacation Days and Sick Days in Israel

Israeli labor law has determined a minimum number of vacation and sick days, but company policies may differ and you may be entitled to more benefits than legally required. Here we delineate what is legally required.

National Holidays

Employees are entitled to up to 9 paid vacation days for national holidays, assuming these days fall on a weekday. These holidays are religion-dependent. For Jewish workers, the days are:

  1. First day of Rosh Hashanah
  2. Second day of Rosh Hashanah 
  3. Yom Kippur
  4. Sukkot
  5. Simchat Torah
  6. First day of Pesach
  7. Last day of Pesach
  8. Yom Haatzmaut
  9. Shavuot

Employees who usually work on Fridays or Shabbat get paid for these vacation days if they fall on a weekend, but employees who work Monday-Thursday are not paid extra for national holidays that don’t fall on a work day.

Additionally, there are other days which are not national holidays but which any Jewish employee can take as one of their accrued vacation days (up to one day per year). These are called “Yemei Bechira” (chosen days):

  1. Erev Rosh Hashanah
  2. Tzom Gedalya
  3. Erev Yom Kippur
  4. Erev Sukkot
  5. Hoshanah Rabbah
  6. Sigd
  7. Asarah B’Tevet
  8. Taanit Esther
  9. Purim
  10. Shushan Purim
  11. Erev Pesach
  12. Erev Shvii Shel Pesach
  13. Mimuna
  14. Lag B’Omer
  15. Erev Shavuot
  16. Shiva Assar B’Tammuz
  17. Tisha B’Av

Annual Vacation 

An employee’s allowance of vacation days depends on whether the job is full or part time, how long the employee has worked at the company and how many days a week the job requires. The minimum number of annual vacation days for a full time employee is 12. 

It is within the employer’s rights to determine when an employee can take vacation and it is legal for the office to be shut down for a specific time period and all employees required to take their vacation at that time. If the enforced vacation is for 7 days or more, the employee must be informed at least two weeks in advance.

Employees are entitled to take one vacation day a year at any time, without need for the employer’s consent, on the condition that the employee notified the employer thirty days in advance.

Days Off Which Aren’t Vacation Days

Employees who are absent for reserve duty, a worker’s strike (unless they are government employees), maternity leave, mourning/shiva or national elections do not have these days deducted from their annual vacation days.

Sick Days

A salaried employee who works full time at once place of employment is eligible for 18 sick days a year (1.5 per month). Sick days can be used for one’s own sickness or in order to care for a family member who is sick. Legally, the employee isn’t paid for the first sick day. The second and third days are 50% pay and the fourth and on are 100% pay. In order to be eligible for this payment, the employee must provide a sick note from a doctor.

Contract Negotiations

Some companies stipulate in their contracts that the employee is entitled to more sick days, that they pay for the first sick day as well or that they offer more vacation days than stipulated by law. When negotiating a contract (either for a new job or in the case of a promotion) these stipulations can often be negotiated. Sometimes, despite a company standing firm on the salary they are offering, they are flexible on vacation and sick days. It is considered acceptable to bring this up in salary negotiations and may result in an improvement in working conditions.

Categories
Employment in Israel Podcasts

Podcast: Employee Rights: What You Need to Know

Yael Frydman, COO of Route 38, knows almost everything there is to know about employee rights and she shares what you should be aware of. 

Categories
Employment in Israel

Israeli Company Culture (and Your Culture Shock)

If you’re just entering the workforce in Israel, you may find that the company culture here is different from what you are used to in your home country. Not every company in Israel is the same, and there are differences between industries and locations, but a group of working women in Israel who belong to the ImaKadima Facebook group have helped us compile a list of characteristics that you are likely to encounter in the Israeli workplace.

Bear in mind that Jerusalem offices tend to be more toned down than offices in the Tel Aviv area. Jerusalem offices are often more heavily religious and that affects workplace culture as well. Some of the characteristics described below are true across the board, while others are more likely to be experienced in the Merkaz (center of the country).

Formality (or lack thereof)

Israel tends to be less formal in general and this is never more true than in the workforce. It starts with the way people dress and talk and even affects management.

Most companies do not have a dress code and casual dress is the norm. There are very few companies where people wear suits to work and many workplaces where jeans and flip-flops are perfectly acceptable.

Israelis tend to speak at work in the same way they speak to their friends or random strangers on the bus. You might be surprised to hear people speaking loudly, very directly and even sounding like they are having an argument, but none of these things are considered rude in Israel. It’s likely that you will be expected to make your opinions known and not beat around the bush.

There is less deference to hierarchy at Israeli companies. Management tends to be more accessible and more open to socializing with employees. Bosses (or their HR departments) often organize mandatory “fun days,” which can be very informal. Alcohol is often served at company events and people are encouraged to let their hair down a bit.

Vacations and absences

Israeli law requires minimum vacation days, but employers can dictate when those vacation days take place. Some companies have mandatory shutdowns during periods when many employees want to take off or when productivity is low. So you may find that your company is closed on chol hamoed or during the last two weeks of August. In some companies that stay open, there is a much smaller staff since a lot of employees choose to take their vacation days at those times.

A large number of Israelis serve in the military reserves (miluim) until their early forties. So your colleagues might be off of work for an extended period while they are in the IDF.

International travel has become popular in Israel in recent years, and it’s not unheard of for employees to take off for a week or two in order to vacation outside the country.

Blurred Boundaries

If you’re used to very strict boundaries between your personal and professional life, aliyah is a good opportunity to let go of them. Coworkers tend to be open about their personal lives, discussing children, spouses and even politics. Colleagues invite each other to family simchas and give each other gifts for events.

Hot topics like politics or religion are not taboo and heated discussions can happen, with everyone still staying on friendly terms. Coworkers may share their feelings and be more free with hugging and kissing. Sometimes personal discussions veer into gray areas, such as asking a woman about her plans regarding getting pregnant. You don’t have to answer any questions that make you uncomfortable or could lead to discriminiation, but it’s best to avoid them elegantly.

In many workplaces, it is acceptable for family and friends to come by to say hello. Even children are welcome in these offices, as long as they aren’t too disruptive.

Work Hours

The Israeli work week is fairly long. A full time job (without overtime) is 42 hours. Many companies work Sunday to Thursday, which translates into nine-hour days. Some companies (and especially governmental institutions) have shorter hours for working mothers.

If you get a job offer with a global salary, this means that you are expected to work overtime. The exact details must be laid out in your contract and adhere to the laws on compensation for overtime.

Some workplaces have electronic time-clocks, where you clock in when you arrive and clock out when you leave. The time clock protects both you and the employer in case of a dispute about work hours. Mas Hachnasa (Israel Tax Authority) requires that hours worked appear on your monthly pay stub.

Salaries and Benefits

Salaries are paid monthly (by law they must be paid by the 9th of the next month). This might be a culture shock if you are used to getting a paycheck every two weeks. Most employers will take your bank account information and pay you by direct deposit.

It is common for employers to give their staff presents before Rosh Hashanah and Pesach. These might be gift baskets, housewares or a gift certificate. Some companies allow their employees to choose a gift from a list of options. Other employers will not give gifts at all or will give something symbolic, like a bottle of wine. Note that gifts from employers are often taxable.

Breaks

Smoking is ubiquitous in Israel and with it cigarette breaks. Coworkers may use their smoking breaks as a time to socialize or to talk business. Lunchtime is also a social occasion at Israeli workplaces. Colleagues tend to eat together, talking, laughing and getting to know each other. Employees may order in, get takeout from a nearby restaurant or bring their own food. 

Some companies (especially in the hi-tech industry) provide their employees with lunch cards such as 10bis and Cibus, which give them free meals at certain establishments. (The amount on the cards is considered taxable income, since, after all, there is no such thing as a free lunch.) There are also workplaces which provide catered lunches for their staff. Some even stock the fridge with breakfast foods and snacks, so employees never have to leave the building during the workday.

Family First

Israeli employers are generally respectful of family obligations and events, such as bar mitzvahs, britot, weddings and funerals, and will understand when an employee takes off time to attend them. When there is a death in an employee’s family, this will be announced to all the workers and some of them will make the effort to attend the funeral and/or shiva. An employee sitting shiva is legally entitled to all those days off.

Judaism in the Workplace

Depending on the location and the people who work at the company, the environment might be more or less religious. But even the most secular workplaces are likely to hold holiday parties before major Jewish holidays. Most companies will make arrangements for kosher food at parties and other events if they know that this is important to some of their employees. Even if you are the only kosher-eating person in your office, there’s no need to be shy about asking for consideration of kashrut restrictions. Legally, Jewish holidays on which work is prohibited by Jewish law are considered paid vacation days.

Work Methods

Olim are sometimes surprised to find out that the customer isn’t always right in Israel. This is true as a consumer but also as an employee. You may find that your bosses are working under the impression that they know what’s best, even if customer feedback seems to be saying something different.

Organized methods and deadlines are not always a feature of the Israeli workplace. On the other hand, both management and employees tend to be extremely dedicated to getting the job done, even if it requires working crazy hours or pulling people off other projects to complete a goal.

Communication

We already mentioned the lack of formality in speech and this includes using casual army slang and references, swear words and divulging TMI (too much information). Israelis talk fast and interrupt each other and this is not considered rude. They do small talk and Jewish geography, but just as often will cut out the small talk to get to the main point as quickly as possible. Who you know is more important than what you know, so it’s important to establish connections, even if it’s as remote as your niece’s neighbor serving in the army with your colleague’s daughter. And don’t be surprised if your coworker offers to set you up with his best friend’s son.

You may find that your office relies less on email and more on WhatsApp and direct communication. A lot of offices prefer task management apps in order to cut down on email but important information may still be relayed informally. This preference for direct communication leads to meetings which may seem unnecessary to you, but which are considered vital by management. 

Adjusting Your Expectations

It will be much easier to get used to the differences in company culture if you come with an open mind and a readiness to learn. Let go of the ideas you brought from your home country and pay attention to how your colleagues behave. Before long, you will find yourself acting like an Israeli and wondering how you ever did business any other way!

Categories
Employment in Israel

Working Two Jobs in Israel: Everything You Need to Know

One of the things you learn quickly in Israel is flexibility. Plans tend to change at the last minute, rules aren’t necessarily law and the food tastes nothing like it did in your home country. At the beginning of life here, these things can be frustrating, but soon you will start to see the benefits of agility and adjustment. 

One of the ways in which Israelis are flexible is in the definition of their careers. There are many Israelis who have one conventional career and stick to it, of course. But there are also a lot of Israelis who work more than one job in order to make a living. There’s the office worker who teaches exercise classes in the evening, the teacher who tutors on the side and the translator who also runs a marketing business, to name a few.

When you have two (or more) jobs, there are some Israeli laws you need to be aware of.

Coordination of Income Tax

If you are a salaried employee, the Income Tax Authority (Mas Hachnasah) provides guidelines to your employer for how much tax to withhold from your salary. Without instruction from Mas Hachnasa, when your employer becomes aware that you are receiving another salary, they are obligated to withhold the maximum amount of taxes.

In order to prevent most of your income going to taxes, you need to coordinate your income tax in a process called Teum Mas. You can apply for a Teum Mas online by providing information about your income sources, although it may be worth your while to stop by your local Mas Hachnasa office and walk it through with an agent. This may take more time, but oftentimes saves headache down the road due to misunderstandings or typos. You will need certain details from your employers, such as their Mispar Tik Nikuim (payroll tax number) and your expected annual income. Register at the Income Tax Authority in order to access the form for Teum Mas. The Teum Mas will arrive within a week or two of applying and you should then send this report to your payroll or HR department so they know the proper amount of taxes to be withheld.

In some cases, you may also need to communicate your dual income to Bituach Leumi. If you didn’t do so and you overpaid, you can request a return.

Unemployment Benefits

Working a second job doesn’t disqualify you from unemployment benefits. If you worked for two employers and one of them laid you off, you can continue to work at the second job and collect unemployment from the first one if you qualify. Your benefits will, of course, be lower than if you were laid off from your only job and were no longer working at all. You’ll need to submit pay stubs from your employer each month.

Entrepreneur with Multiple Clients

If you have multiple clients and don’t receive a salary, you must open a business with independent contractor files at the VAT office, Income Tax Authority and Bituach Leumi. You report your income and pay income tax, Bituach Leumi and VAT (if relevant) according to your total income from all your clients. This involves paperwork and it is recommended that you hire a tax consultant (Yoetz Mas) or accountant to help you with this. 

It is also possible to receive a salary from an Employer of Record such as Route 38. In that case, the clients pay the EOR and you receive a salary based on revenue collected. Payments and taxes are automatically withheld, just like they are for every other salaried employee.

Employee and Entrepreneur

If you’re supplementing a salaried job with a side business, you need to open files with the VAT office, the Income Tax Authority and Bituach Leumi. Your payments to Bituach Leumi will be deducted automatically from your salary and additional payments will be owed from your freelance income, taking into account what you have already paid as a salaried employee. 

As a freelancer, you are required to report your income to the Income Tax Authority. There is no need for a Teum Mas, unless you have more than one salaried position in addition to your freelance earnings. When filing your end of the year report, include your income as a salaried employee so your income tax is calculated correctly. This report should also include funds deducted from both the job and the business for pension or Keren Hishtalmut (education savings fund), as they will reduce your taxable income.

Categories
Employment in Israel

Benefits for Pregnant Women

Israeli employment law protects pregnant women in several ways. In fact, there are some benefits that start even before pregnancy if a woman is undergoing fertility treatments. Full days off for fertility treatment are treated as sick days and individual hours can also be deducted (up to 40 hours a year for a full time employee). A woman cannot be fired or have her salary changed during an absence due to fertility treatments.

A woman is obligated to inform her employer of her pregnancy during her fifth month. Likewise, a woman who is hired at a new job while pregnant doesn’t have to disclose her pregnancy prior to accepting the job, unless she has reached month 5. Some women choose to let their employer know earlier, either because they are feeling sick and may not be performing at optimal level or in order to give their bosses more time to find a maternity leave replacement. The law allowing women to wait till five months protects them against discrimination, so each employee should consider carefully when the best time to disclose a pregnancy is.

Discrimination against pregnant women, in the hiring process or in the workplace, is illegal. A woman who was discriminated against can sue her employer in the labor court. This includes a prohibition of firing a pregnant woman because she is pregnant. If a company wants to fire a pregnant woman for a different reason, and that woman has worked at the company for more than 6 months, the employer must obtain special permission to fire her. A common case would be a company that is laying off many workers due to budget cuts and wants to include a pregnant woman in the general layoff. If a pregnant woman was fired without special permission, it is considered as if she was never fired.

Employers are also prohibited from lowering the salary or work scope of a pregnant woman, regardless of how long she has worked at the company. 

It is prohibited to require a pregnant woman to work overtime or night shifts. However, she can work overtime if she has consented in writing and provided a letter from her OB/GYN that there is no need to refrain from overtime. A woman can be asked to work at night (at least two hours between 10 PM and 6 AM) but she is within her rights to refuse in writing. 

If a woman has a documented high-risk pregnancy and is absent from work for 30 days or more, she is entitled to a Bed Rest Benefit from Bituach Leumi.

A pregnant woman can be absent from work for routine pregnancy tests for up to 40 hours (for a full time employee). These hours are paid for by the employer as if she worked.  A part time employee is entitled to this benefit as well, relative to the number of hours she works on a regular basis.

The spouse of a pregnant woman is entitled to use 7 days of their sick days due to her pregnancy or childbirth. This includes accompanying her to appointments and being present for childbirth. He can also utilize 3 vacation days after the birth of the child. If he wishes to take 4 or 5 days, those extra two days can be considered sick days. These days are not considered maternity leave and don’t negate the spouse’s right to split maternity leave with his wife.

For more information on the rights of pregnant women in the workplace, see the Kol Zchut website.

Categories
Business in Israel Employment in Israel

Should I freelance, open a business or work as an employee?

One of the great things about living in Israel is that there are endless ways of making a living. Olim are often surprised to discover that their new neighbors are working in many different types of jobs and that they are not necessarily working full-time jobs at established companies. They may be freelancers, small business owners or founders of start-ups. The Israeli economy and social structure promote creativity, flexibility and out-of-the-box thinking about careers.

You don’t always have a choice on how to structure your career path, but there are some circumstances in which you will have to choose whether to be an employee, a freelancer or a business owner:

  • The Israeli company you work for wants to hire you as a freelancer
  • You work for a foreign company with no Israeli office
  • You work for multiple clients in Israel or abroad
  • You are starting your own company

Here are the some of the differences between employees, freelancers and business owners:

EmployeeFreelancer (atzma’i – osek patur or osek murshe)Business owner (b’am)
Taxes and social benefit obligations are deducted automaticallyTaxes and social benefit obligations are paid independentlyTaxes and social benefit obligation payments are set up as automatic deductions by the company accountant 
Minimum sick days and vacation days provided by lawNo sick days or vacation daysYou are your own boss. You make the rules.
Keren hishtalmut savings plan may be includedKeren hishtalmut savings plan can be set up independently Keren hishtalmut savings plan can be set up via the business
US citizens will not owe a 15% Social Security (FICA) tax for filing as an independent contractorUS citizens will be taxed 15% of their income to Social SecurityUS citizens will not owe Social Security
No accountant needed to file an annual return, assuming no other reportable incomeAccountant strongly recommended for the end of the year report. Osek murshe has additional, periodic reporting requirements over the course of the year (best done with an accountant).High accounting fees. Monthly, bi-monthly and annual reporting requirements
No additional administrative or accounting responsibilitiesMinimum level of administrative responsibilities in addition to tax reporting responsibilities indicated aboveSignificant additional administrative responsibilities and required understanding of Israeli corporate income tax requirements in addition to tax reporting responsibilities indicated above
Receives maternity leave and maternity payment (after accrual of minimum required months on payroll)Receives maternity leave and maternity payment (after accrual of minimum required months reported)Receives maternity leave and maternity payment (after accrual of minimum required months on payroll)
Work schedule determined by employerSelf-determined work scheduleSelf-determined work schedule
Payment generally deposited directly into employee’s bank accountPayment collected directly from client(s)Payment collected directly from client(s)

One of the reasons that we founded Route 38 was because being an employee in Israel is legally and financially simpler than being a freelancer or opening up a company. We are the employer of record for people who work for foreign companies or provide services to clients and are not employed by another Israeli company. Our solution allows people to focus on their work without spending time and resources on collection of funds, paperwork and government reporting. In many cases, the employees retain control over their schedule and choose which projects they want to work on, while enjoying the benefits of an Israeli pay stub.

There are career paths which don’t lend themselves to the Route 38 employer of record service. In fact, every case is different, and professional advice is highly recommended before making a choice that has long-term effects. We provide objective and professional advice to help you make the choice that’s best for you. Email us at info@route38.co.il with information about your situation and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Categories
Employment in Israel

How Do I File for Maternity Leave in Israel?

Mazel tov on your new baby! In between changing diapers and feeding this adorable munchkin, you may be worried about how you receive your maternity leave benefits. The good news is that you probably don’t have to do anything to make that happen, but of course, there are some exceptions.

Eligibility for Maternity Leave

Maternity leave refers to the amount of time your employer is obligated to hold your job for you. If you have worked for a year for the same company, you are entitled to a maternity leave of 26 weeks, only some of which is paid. If you have worked for your current company for less than 12 months, you are entitled to 15 weeks of maternity leave, all or some of which is paid. Your employer cannot prevent you from taking maternity leave or begin the termination process for a period of 60 days after your return. 

If you were employed by the same employer for a year before becoming pregnant, you will have pensions contributed on your behalf for the first 5 weeks of maternity leave. You must also deposit 6% during this time (usually laid out by the employer and deducted from your pay upon your return to work).

If you’re self-employed, you don’t need anyone to hold your job, so this is not relevant to you, but you do receive maternity pay from Bituach Leumi.

Maternity Pay

A woman who worked 10 out of 14 months or 15 out of 22 months prior to her birth is eligible for 15 weeks paid maternity leave from Bituach Leumi. A woman who worked 6 out of 14 months prior to her birth is eligible for 8 weeks paid leave.

According to the Kol Zchut website, “The maternity allowance is computed per day according to the gross salary of the employee in the three months preceding the first of the month in which the leave began, divided by 90, or according to the total income in the six months which preceded that day, divided by 180 (whichever is higher, up to the maximum established amount).”

If you’re self-employed, payment is based on the three months preceding your maternity leave or the same three months in the previous year, whichever is higher. If you’re both a salaried worker and self-employed, maternity pay will be based on both incomes.

How to File for Maternity Pay

If you’re a salaried worker and your employer has an arrangement with Bituach Leumi, you will automatically receive your maternity pay in a one time payment during your maternity leave. If you are self-employed, you will get a payment based on your advance payments to Bituach Leumi and adjustments will be made later if necessary. If you were receiving bed rest benefits or unemployment, you will also receive your maternity pay automatically.

If you don’t fall into any of these categories or you gave birth at home and not in the hospital, you will need to file a claim with Bituach Leumi. This can be done up to 9 weeks before the due date by mail, fax or at a local branch, or after birth online. These are some of the documents you may need:

  • Confirmation of birth from the hospital (if you gave birth abroad)
  • Newborn registration at Ministry of Interior (if baby was not born in a hospital)
  • Permit from the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Economy (if you received vocational training from the government)
  • Reserves book and certificate of discharge (if you are a newly released soldier)
  • Proof of National Service (if you have just completed it)
  • Bank account information (if you are a foreign worker or foreign passport holder)
  • A completed Form 355 from Bituach Leumi. Sections 8, 9 and 10 of this form must be completed and signed by your employer.

In most cases, maternity pay arrives automatically in a new mother’s bank account. If you fall into one of the categories that require filing, the process is fairly transparent and shouldn’t be too difficult. You’ll have plenty of time to focus on yourself and your new baby.

Categories
Employment in Israel

How Do Pensions in Israel Work?

Financial advisors will tell you that pensions are just as important as salaries, and for good reason. Although it seems counter-intuitive, retirement expenses are just as high if not higher than what you are spending now. This is because of new expenses such as medicine and medical treatments and increased spending on things like transportation and food. Taxis often replace driving, busing or walking and the ability to get to discount stores may be curtailed. Some retirees are still marrying off children or helping out their young adult kids. And basics like phones, electricity and home maintenance don’t change.

That’s why smart financial planning includes planning for retirement and luckily, the Israeli government has regulated this so that every citizen has some form of pension.

Bituach Leumi

All citizens who have contributed to Bituach Leumi for 12 years are eligible for a state pension. Israeli residents start paying into Bituach Leumi at the age of 18 (unless they are in the army or National Service). If you are working, this payment is deducted automatically from your paycheck. If you are a business owner, the government collects this payment from you directly. The basic pension starts at 1,558 NIS a month per person and 2,430 NIS for a couple, so while this is a nice amount to have, it’s not going to go very far in covering your living expenses. Furthermore, the amounts paid out by Bituach Leumi might be reduced due to actuarial issues.

Private Pensions

Your employer is obligated to set aside at least 6.5% of your salary or the average wage in the economy (whichever is lower) every month for pension insurance. You also pay into the insurance, at the rate of 6% of your salary. 

Your employer is also obligated to set aside severance pay to the amount of 6%, or 8.33% if you have signed a Chapter 14 clause. A Chapter 14 clause states that the employee is entitled to receive exactly what is in the fund (no more and no less) at the time of termination, regardless of whether the parting of ways was initiated by the employee or the employer. If you don’t use your severance pay, it becomes part of the pension paid out to you in retirement.

Just like Bituach Leumi, employees have their pension deducted automatically from their paychecks, while business owners have to set this up on their own.

Multiple Pensions

Many companies choose a pension provider for their employees and this may result in one person having several pension plans. In recent years, the government has mandated that an employee can choose which plan he wants to contribute to, regardless of the company’s official provider. So if you get a new job but already have an existing plan, you can continue to contribute to it and don’t have to open a new one.

If you do have multiple pensions, check whether you are paying fees on each one. If that’s the case, you may be better off consolidating them into one, although there are cases where it makes sense to keep them separate. If you merge the plans, make sure that your pension is now being paid into the consolidated plan.

Catching Mistakes

It’s important to check that your pension is actually being deducted, because if a mistake is made you may find yourself suddenly losing most of your salary to a retroactive pension payment. 

In general, we recommend looking at your payment stub (tlush maskoret) carefully each month, to check that everything is in order. Payroll mistakes can happen and if you’re only looking at the final number at the bottom, you may miss them.

How to Choose a Pension Plan

There are many pension providers and it can be extremely confusing to understand the differences between them. Revenues, management fees,  level of investment aggression, annuity vs. lump sum payments, various insurances connected with the policies and more differences need to be taken into account when choosing a plan. To complicate matters further, insurance agents are often representatives of one specific company, so they aren’t giving you objective advice. 

If you’re starting fresh or want to switch pension companies, it is advisable to consult with an independent insurance agent who can explain what your options are and recommend a plan that meets your needs.

Thank you to Motty Handler, registered insurance agent, hmotty@gmail.com, for his help in writing this article.

Categories
Employment in Israel

Understanding Israeli Salaries

Whether you have lived in Israel for a number of years, are considering aliyah or are packing up to make the big move, one of your biggest concerns is surely how to make a good living in Israel. Stanley Fisher, former President of the Bank of Israel, famously remarked that he couldn’t understand his own salary slips. Salaries in Israel are made up of a number of components and understanding them is key to analyzing your financial situation. 

Let’s clarify some of the basic terms that are used to describe the required and optional tax and social benefit obligations in Israel. 

Ø  Bruto – Gross salary. Generally the base salary that is offered to you in a contract.

Ø  Neto – The amount of money actually deposited in your bank account on a monthly basis, after deductions of income tax and other required payments are removed. Note that the Israeli standard is to be paid monthly, not bi-weekly or bi-monthly.

Ø  Mas Hachnasa – Income tax. Incurred at a graduated rate. Income tax is removed automatically from your salary, and in most cases, there is no need to file taxes at the end of the year. Income taxes are calculated on an annual basis, yet paid out on a monthly scale. We will dissect this area in a later post.

Ø  Bituach Leumi – National Insurance coverage. Often compared to US Social Security benefits, but they are actually very different. (I’ll compare these two institutions in a future article.)

Ø  Keren Pentzia – Pension fund deposit. This is a mandatory benefit requiring the employer to pay a minimum of 6.5% of the monthly bruto total and the employee to deposit a minimum of 6% of bruto. Each employee has the ability to choose the investment option they prefer. This will also be the subject of a later post.

Ø  Kupat Gemel – Mutual fund investment. Similar to a pension fund in structure and purpose, but not mandatory.

Ø  Bituach Menahalim – Pension for managerial positions and above. 

Ø  Keren Hishtalmut – Translated as a “Study Fund.” The initial purpose was for an employee to accumulate a base in order to apply for continuing education. In reality, it now acts as an additional, optional short term tax free savings vehicle. Some employers offer this as an added benefit, but it is not available across the board.

Ø  Ovdan kosher avodah – Additional, optional long term disability insurance. This perk is generally only offered in the hi-tech sphere.

When you are offered a job in Israel, you will be told what the bruto salary is and what additional benefits (if any) are provided. An employer will not be able to tell you what your neto take home pay will be, since this is based on many factors outside his control. You can get an idea of what your neto salary will be by using this calculator.

Got any more questions about how your neto salary is determined? Comment below and I will respond.