rockets - AFP - April 10 2011
An Iron Dome missile outside Ashkelon responding to a rocket launch from the Gaza Strip. Photo by AFP
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Can my employer force me to take vacation due to the security situation?

"An employer may send an employee on leave on a day's notice so long as the leave is for less than a week," says attorney Dafna Shmuelovich, an expert in labor law who represents employers. Employees need to be given two weeks' notice for anything longer than a week. "In any case, the issue will be judged based on the circumstances: Plenty of people had vacations planned for the second half of August in any case, and therefore the security situation won't affect them. Regarding people who planned to work, the question is who will pay for their absence? Experience has shown that the state, the employer and the worker split the cost."

Can my employer cut my shifts?

"Under special situations on the home front, the security authorities may give orders regarding work arrangements," says Shmuelovich. "This may include closing workplaces entirely or cutting back on shifts.

"In cases where the employer was ready to open the business and the employee was ready to work, but forces of nature interfered, this is considered the thwarting of a work agreement. In such cases, the employer is exempt from having to pay, since the work could not be performed due to circumstances unrelated to the employer.

"In the case of the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, for instance, since people could not work for extended periods of time and both employers and employees suffered, the Finance Ministry, the Histadrut labor federation and the employers devised a compensation mechanism. The state paid part of workers' salaries and the employers' losses."

I didn't come to work because of the rocket fire in the south. Can my employer fire me?

"The Emergency Worker Protection Law states that workers cannot be fired for missing work due to defense authority orders. In some cases, an employee cannot be fired because his child's school was closed due to security issues. If an employee is fired within two months of when the security situation occurred, the burden of proof rests on the employer, who has to prove that the worker was not fired due to the security situation."

I was called to reserve duty while on vacation. Does my service come at the expense of my vacation?

"The Annual Vacation Law states that reserve duty cannot be considered vacation. It doesn't matter whether the worker was called up before he left for vacation or while he was away; the employer is forbidden from deducting vacation days for this time. This is because the law is designed to enable employees to rest, which they're not doing if they're helping defend the country in the reserves."