Editorial |

Give Caregivers Their Money

There is no reason a foreign worker who asks the Population Authority for the number of the account in which her money is deposited should be told the authority does not give account details to the workers.

Haaretz Editorial
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A foreign caregiver walks alongside an elderly lady in Ra'anana.
A foreign caregiver walks alongside an elderly lady in Ra'anana. Credit: Alon Ron
Haaretz Editorial

A caregiver from Nepal was supposed to leave Israel recently after having worked here for about a decade. She tried to withdraw the 1,800 shekels (about $500) that was deducted from her wages for pension and severance pay, but was unable to do so.

As of November 2016 the law obliges personnel agencies handling migrant caregivers to deduct money for each worker’s pension and severance pay, and deposit it in a special bank account for them. However, the withdrawal process has proved too complicated (Ilan Lior, Tuesday) and dozens of caregivers have been forced to leave Israel in recent months without getting their money, according to testimonies gathered by the NGO Kav LaOved – Worker’s Hotline. Others were given the runaround before they could finally withdraw their money.

The difficulties arise from the procedures, which list the things the workers are required to do to withdraw the money. Under the procedure, the worker must notify the personnel agency; submit the application for receiving the deposited funds up to 30 days before leaving Israel at the latest, and submit the request by means of an online form, which, when filled, must include the number of the bank account in which the money is deposited.

The problem is that the workers don’t know the account number and the authorities make it difficult for them to obtain it. To top it all, the form is available only in Hebrew.

Some 60,000 foreign workers currently care for the elderly in Israel, about 80 percent of them are women. The deposit, making up 15 percent of the worker’s wages, usually adds up to hundreds of shekels a month. A staffer at Workers Hotline said this week, “Many workers applied to us after having left Israel. When they asked the caregiver personnel agency about the money that was owed them, they were told they’d get it at the airport. When they came to the bank branch at the airport, the bank refused to give them the money because they didn’t have the required document.”

This practice applied to the most underprivileged people in Israeli society is outrageous. There is no reason a foreign worker who asks the Population Authority for the number of the account in which her money is deposited should be told the authority does not give account details to the workers.

Nor is there any reason that after the caregiver fills out a form manually, attaches the required documents and sends them to the Population Authority’s e-mail address, she is told she isn’t permitted to submit a request to withdraw the deposit, and that only the personnel company may do it.

Obviously there is also no reason, after the worker completes the paperwork, for the company to refuse to transfer the payment order directly to the worker, who needs it to withdraw the money.

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