Missed Work Yesterday? Know Your Rights

Hundreds of thousands of workers missed work or showed up late yesterday due to extreme weather. When discussing the situation with your employer, know your rights and options.

About 15 percent of private sector employees – approximately 300,000 people – missed work yesterday due to the weather, according to Uriel Lynn, head of the Federation of the Israeli Chambers of Commerce.

Of the 2.2 million people working in the private sector, the majority work in commerce and services with another large chunk in industry and factories.

Of those that did show up, more than half of them were late by an hour and a half on average, thanks to flooded or blocked roads and hellish traffic, said Lin.

In the public sector, approximately one third were late yesterday – by an hour on average – and 10 percent never showed up at all, according to the Civil Service Authority. Waiting times at government offices were particularly long as a result.

Though winters in Israel are not particularly harsh, one day of severe weather can seriously disrupt the economy. Here are some questions and answers to help you understand your rights:

1.  I didn’t get to work due to flooding. Will I get paid?

This issue has not been legislated. Therefore, those who missed work due to weather conditions will not be compensated for lost income.

2.  How are absences due to extreme weather different from those due to security emergencies such as wars, which are eligible for compensation?

Absences due to security emergencies are covered by collective wage agreements and by government decrees. No such agreements apply to weather conditions.

3. Can you apply a paid vacation day to an absence due to weather?

An employee can request that his or her employer consider the missed day as paid vacation. The employer is not obligated to do so, since paid vacations are generally planned and approved in advance.

4. I arrived at work despite the weather and found the doors locked. Will the day’s wages be lost?

An employee must be paid if he or she showed up, regardless of whether the workplace was closed, since he or she was willing to work but the employer did not comply. In some cases, an employer can instruct employees to work from home or from another location.

5. So what should I do?

Do your best to get to work, despite stormy conditions, to avoid losing wages but take safety into consideration as well. Discuss with your employer in advance the protocol for missing in such circumstances so you have a shared understanding of expectations. If practical, ask the employer about working from home. 

6. Am I liable to be penalized or fired?

Missing work is a serious disciplinary breach that can lead to penalties. However, under these circumstances, your employer will most likely be sympathetic. Even if you're not paid for the day, it's unlikely you will be disciplined.