Knesset Committee Approves Bill Ensuring Equal Pay for Women

Bill would allow women to sue employers retroactively for up to five years of back pay in cases where men were paid more for doing the same job.

The Knessets Labor, Welfare and Health Committee on Monday approved a bill for its second and third readings that would make salary discrimination between men and women illegal.

The bill would allow women to sue their employers retroactively for salary discrimination for a period of up to five years, after the Justice Ministry objected to the original bill's proposal that the period be extended to seven years.

The bill has the government's support, on the condition that the various government ministries agree to the period that it would apply retroactively.

Under current law, Israelis can sue for salary discrimination going back only two years.

The new bill was submitted by MKs Dalia Itzik (Kadima) and Haim Katz (Likud), following a High Court ruling in May under which businesses that pay women substantially less than men for doing the same job must prove a lack of discrimination - rather than the burden of proof falling on the employee.

The ruling was made in response to a suit filed by Orit Goren, who was employed as a clerk in the home furnishings department of Home Center in Ramat Gan for NIS 17 per hour, while a male employee in the same department was getting NIS 26 an hour.

Itzik and Katz explained that they wanted to extend the retroactive period by five years because seven years is the generally accepted length of time for financial claims. Their bill was submitted as an amendment to the 1996 Equal Pay for Men and Women Law.

Calling the existing legal status quo "intolerable," Itzik said the new bill was "an important step toward equality in Israel's employment market."

"There is no reason why a woman who sues under the law, and a court rules that she is owed back pay, should only get that back pay for two years I call on anyone for whom advancing womens status is important to support this bill.

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Orit Goren
Tomer Appelbaum