Cabinet Backs Plan to Set 3% Employment Target for Disabled in Civil Service

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Employees at the National Insurance Institute of Israel. Credit: Nir Kafri

The cabinet backed a government pledge on Sunday to expand employment opportunities for the disabled, setting a target that 3% of civil service positions be filled by the disabled by 2017.

The plan will be gradually implemented and essentially constitutes the cabinet’s agreement to apply a similar order issued several months ago by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, which applies to private sector employers with staffs of more than 100.

The cabinet decision requires the civil service commissioner, in coordination with the finance, justice and economy ministers and the equal opportunity commissioner for the disabled, to issue an order within 45 days on how the decision will be implemented.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Histadrut labor federation chairman Avi Nissenkorn both praised the measure. The labor federation chief said it was appropriate that the government was setting an example and taking the initiative before the issue became a bone of contention with the labor federation.

However, the absence of a government commitment to employ the disabled within the civil service was one of the grounds on which the Histadrut declared a general labor dispute on November 18, paving the way for a possible general strike.

Nissenkorn struck a similar agreement on employment of the disabled with representatives of employers in the private sector after assuming the Histadrut chairmanship earlier this year. It was later extended to the entire private sector by Bennett.

Ehud Ratzabi, who chairs ILAN: Israel Foundation For Handicapped Children and also heads the Lahav organization of independent businesses, called the cabinet decision “a revolution that will open new opportunities in the labor force for people with disabilities, and give them the prospect of genuine integration into Israeli society.”

At the beginning of the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu called the measure a social justice provision of the highest order. “It shows the disabled that they are not prevented from taking part, as equal members and equal contributors in the civil service of the State of Israel,” he said.

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