Measures on Haredim Vanish From Labor Reform

Currently, 37% of Haredi men and 49% of Haredi women work.

The Trajtenberg committee's recommendations for increasing employment are set to be brought to the cabinet for approval Sunday, with one glaring omission - all the proposals for increasing employment among the ultra-Orthodox were dropped.

The team headed by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, charged with drafting far-reaching proposals for economic and social change, had called for increasing employment among the ultra-Orthodox by introducing new incentives and training programs. Currently, 37% of Haredi men and 49% of Haredi women work.

employment fair for the Haredi community - Hagai Fried - 27012012
Hagai Fried

Its proposals had included encouraging military or national service among the community and offering college prep courses for volunteers, creating more employment centers targeting ultra-Orthodox, and experimental matriculation prep courses after Yeshiva hours.

The committee also called for increasing the number of Haredi students receiving technical training through the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry and forcing ultra-Orthodox schools to carry out standardized testing, as is done at other public schools.

These recommendations had raised opposition from ultra-Orthodox community leaders.

Indeed, sources close to those who drafted the government's proposal said the intent had been to pass the recommendations in full, but "due to the dynamics of negotiations and pressure from different spheres, changes were made."

However, many of the Trajtenberg labor-related proposals are being brought before the cabinet with few, if any, changes.

This includes proposals to increase employment among the Arab community, particularly among Arab women. On this issue, the draft includes the Trajtenberg committee's seven proposals in full, and also calls for budgeting the full sum - NIS 785 million over five years.

It also includes proposals for integrating disabled citizens into the workforce. In this field, the government's plan goes beyond Trajtenberg's proposals, calling for creating 300 national service posts for disabled young people by 2014, among others.

The plan also calls for improving labor law enforcement and assisting single mothers, all in keeping with the Trajtenberg proposals. It includes a NIS 175 million budget for helping single mothers find employment.

The government also goes further than Trajtenberg in its recommendations on limiting foreign workers. It creates a concrete mechanism for encouraging workers to leave, mandating that employers must deposit NIS 700 of the foreign employees' pensions into a savings fund that the workers receive only upon departing Israel. It also calls for setting the minimum wage for foreigners working in industry at NIS 5,300 a month, which while improving their terms, which would also make them more expensive to employ and let locals compete more easily.

Ultimately, the proposals calls for cutting back the number of workers over the next several years.