Bank of Israel Pays for Cars for Staffers Who Cannot Drive

Working for the central bank pays off. Along with the high salaries, huge retirement bonuses and pre-retirement promotions designed to boost pension payments, the Bank of Israel has invented a series of gimmicks to raise wages. The bank covers car maintenance costs for employees who do not own vehicles - even those who lack drivers' licenses.

Employees defined as "necessary" are entitled to full refunds on car maintenance costs. Those deemed "partially necessary" - the code for no car or license - are entitled to 50 percent of the refund given to necessary employees. Civil servants are not eligible for car maintenance refunds if they do no own cars or hold valid drivers' licenses. Apparently, since the central bank has no budget limitations - it sets its own spending ceiling - it can easily offer its employees these perks.

The bank also sets high mileage quotas relative to the civil service norm. Two-thirds of Bank of Israel employees hold high civil service ranks, entitling them to reimbursement for 20,000 to 24,000 kilometers a year - twice the highest civil service quota. The Bank of Israel doesn't link the quotas to job-related travel but rather to rank, and quotas increase with promotions.

In addition, unlike the civil service, the Bank of Israel does not demand milage reports to reimburse employees for job-related travel. Bank of Israel employees are entitled to receive reimbursements for job-related travel in addition to their regular monthly payments for travel costs.

Most Bank of Israel employees hold high civil service ranks, entitling them to high salaries. Until 2001, 45 percent of the workforce was promoted every year, allowing staffers to climb the salary ladder quickly. In 2002, the number of promotions was cut to 24 percent. That number has now been slashed to 3 percent. However, promotions are chosen by the union.

The bank's pension terms are unparalleled. Prior to retirement, any employee below the peak salary level receives a two-rank promotion, a measure that raises pension entitlement by 30 percent. In addition, retiring staffers receive three months of adaptation payments and are allowed to cash in unused sick days. Central bank staffers rack up 45 sick days a year, compared to the civil service norm of 30, and each day is worth 20 percent more than the civil service norm.

Retiring staffers are also entitled to cash in vacation days under a number of categories including regular vacation time, special vacation time, frozen vacation time, higher education vacation, special higher education vacation time and second special higher education vacation time - categories that exist nowhere else in the civil service.

The Bank of Israel stated in response, "All the issues raised here will be resolved in the new wage agreement about to be signed by the Finance Ministry, the Bank of Israel and the labor union."