Employers Pressuring Workers to Return to Work

The security situation in the North has disrupted the work of many companies, and after a week and a half of fighting, employers are pressuring workers to return to work.

?The government?s decision not to commit itself to the extent of compensation for indirect damages to companies has forced companies to take a harder line with their employees,? according to a statement by the CFO Forum.

Forum chair Noga Kainan criticized the practice of hosting entire families in the center of the country. It is better if only the children stay in the center so that parents can continue working close to home. ?This should have been the finest hour of the Education Ministry, the youth movements and the community centers, which should have hosted the children of workers from the North, and allowed their parents to go to work,? she said.

The Histadrut Labor Federation and the business sector?s umbrella organization support a proposal by MK Ami Ayalon ?(Labor?) for state compensation of employers. Under Ayalon?s bill, workers who are absent from work due to the fighting will be entitled to full pay, and the state will compensate employers for the costs.

Two bills have been presented to the Knesset concerning protection of workers in the emergency. One is a private members bill presented by a group of MKs headed by Ayalon and MK Yuri Stern ?(Yisrael Beiteinu?), and the second was presented by the Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry. Under the bills, workers may not be fired during an emergency, and must receive their full pay. However, the government bill does not contain the clause calling for government compensation of employers for wage costs, which is opposed by Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson.

In a compromise between Trade Minister Eli Yishai and Ayalon, it was agreed that the two bills would be discussed in the Knesset House Committee today, with the intention of presenting them for a Knesset reading soon. The discussion will focus on the dispute over compensation of employees.

MK Silvan Shalom ?(Likud?) proposed a bill aimed at helping small- and medium-sized businesses during the war. Under the bill, anyone whose business or home is in an area affected by the fighting and did not report or pay taxes on time will not be fined, will not be charged interest, and will not face any special collection measures until the emergency is over. Also, the banks will honor payments made by the business, even if surpasses its credit limit.

The Knesset Finance Committee will tour Rosh Pina, Safed and Carmiel this week to examine the financial implications of the security situation, and the Knesset Economics Committee will tour the area Wednesday.