Cabinet Approves Plan for Advancing Women in Public Service

Plan includes overtime pay for work done at home; aims to reach gender equality.

Nir Kafri

The cabinet gave its unanimous backing Sunday to a five-year plan to encourage the employment of women in the upper ranks of the public service. It includes a provision allowing public service employees with children up to the age of 12 to do overtime from home.

The plan, which is also designed to narrow wage disparities between men and women in the public service, where women in general earn less, was sponsored by Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is based on recommendations of a public committee that was convened eight months ago at Livnat’s request to explore ways to enable women to advance in public-sector jobs.

The provision regarding the payment of overtime hours for work at home is expected to enable many women to boost their salaries as they juggle job responsibilities and child-rearing, although it applies to men in the public service as well. It is also expected to ease the way for more women to assume senior positions in a public-service system that up to now did not allow compensation for overtime hours for work done at home.

On a pilot basis, the overtime compensation plan will be available to about 2,500 mothers and fathers employed at government ministries in specified job classifications. The plan also calls for the establishment of a system for reporting the hours worked. Employees will only be able to avail themselves of the chance to do overtime at home on days during which they have put in all their regular hours at the office.

“I believe that the implementation of the recommendations will enable employees in general and women in particular to find the necessary balance between family life and parenting, and a professional life in a reality in which workers are required to be more highly available than in the past,” Livnat said. “The public service must set an example with regard to everything related to maintaining the balance between workers’ private lives and leisure time and their work.”

Sunday’s cabinet decision includes a five-year plan designed to achieve proper representation of women in senior public service positions that also sets specific goals in particular offices, as well as an overall goal of 50% representation of women. Women currently fill 38% of senior public service jobs. The Public Service Commission will also examine current job descriptions to ensure uniform application of job criteria, so that pay equity is also achieved for comparable jobs.