Asylum Seekers Sent to Detention Entitled to Severance Pay

Decision affects large majority of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers who hold temporary resident permits that prohibit them from working.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Some 500 detainees at the Holot facility lent their support to a nearby rally held by African asylum seekers. February 17, 2014.
Some 500 detainees at the Holot facility lent their support to a nearby rally held by African asylum seekers. February 17, 2014.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkowitz
Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

The Finance Ministry has determined that asylum seekers who leave jobs in Israel to emigrate or report to the Holot detention facility are entitled to severance pay.

Attorney Iris Maayan, the Finance Ministry’s expert on asylum seekers’ labor rights, wrote, “An individual who infiltrated into Israel, lived here and worked here with a temporary residence permit that did not allow him to work, but eventually ceased working due to leaving the country of his own accord or being order to Holot until choosing to leave Israel — such a person is entitled to severance pay.”

The decision affects the large majority of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers who hold temporary resident permits that prohibit them from working. The government committed before the Supreme Court not to enforce the prohibition to allow the asylum seekers to make a living while receiving collective protection in Israel. But many employers take advantage of the asylum seekers’ unclear status, withholding basic rights, including severance pay.

Maayan wrote that her position is based on “basic norms of law and case law.” She added that the term “dismissed” can be interpreted to include cessation of employment due to circumstance in which an employee is ordered to leave the country and that asylum seekers are entitled to receive any pension funds they have accumulated before leaving the country.

“It’s not unnecessary to point out that this practice — forcing employers to pay their employees after termination of foreign workers that does not stem from the workers’ interest, but rather the state’s interest, is recognized by the Supreme Court and other rulings,” wrote Maayan.

Noa Kaufman, coordinator for refugees and asylum seekers at the Worker’s Hotline, praised the Finance Ministry’s decision, saying it is good news for the many asylum seekers who are forced to fight for their basic rights. “As far as I know, aside from the large hotels, no employer has paid severance pay to employees who were ordered to Holot. Employers would say, We didn’t fire the employee, he should turn to the government to get severance. We have hundreds of files of employees already at Holot. There have been cases in which we’ve succeeded to get severance, or partial severance, but many cases have been sent to the courts and are still being handled there. I hope this decision can help find a solution.”

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

Relatives mourn during the funeral of four teenage Palestinians from the Nijm family killed by an errant rocket in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, August 7.

Why Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rockets Kill So Many Palestinians

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed

AIPAC

AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op