Knesset Eases Geographic Restrictions on Foreign Caregivers

In June 2014, the Interior Ministry barred caregivers from moving outside of the region of their first assignment

Arye Dery.
Alex Kolomoisky

The Knesset Interior and Environment Committee on Monday made it easier for foreign home health aides to move to a different area of the country for a new job placement.

In June 2014, the Interior Ministry barred caregivers from moving outside of the region of their first assignment. The directive followed complaints of home aides outside the center of the country abandoning their employers. On Monday, at Interior Minister Arye Dery’s behest, the committee issued new rules allowing caregivers to change regions in the event their employer dies or moves to a nursing home. The restriction remains, however, for aides who are fired or quit, even if the resignation is due to a violation of their rights.

“These are the times that measure our strength as a society and as elected officials,” Dery said Monday. “Aiding the population that needs nursing care, treatment and continuous support is a necessity and I’m convinced that these changes are significant to the lives of these patients.”

Committee Chairman David Amsalem said that discussions were under way with the Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority and the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry about giving caregivers monetary incentives to stay in outlying regions.

According to the population agency, there are some 50,000 foreign caregivers working in Israel legally and another 12,000 who are working illegally. Eighty percent of the aides are women. Around half are from India or the Philippines, with the rest from other states in Asia or from Eastern Europe.

In the past, foreign caregivers were tied to a single employer and were required to leave the country if they were fired or left their jobs. In 2006, however, the High Court of Justice accepted a petition filed by human rights groups against this arrangement and abolished it. Home health aides were permitted to change jobs, but were still restricted to the region of their first employer and cautioned that frequent job-hopping could lead to a revocation of their visa.

The Knesset also passed a law expanding the Interior Ministry’s authority to bar anyone convicted, charged or suspected of sex crimes, human trafficking or employing people under slavery-like conditions from hiring a home health aide.