Na'amat Must Compensate Disabled Volunteer, Says Court

The Tel Aviv District Labor Court has required Na'amat, a subsidiary of the Histadrut labor federation, to pay a disabled woman NIS 100,000 for her assistance in the operation of a children's day care center over an eleven year period without receiving monetary compensation.

The ruling summary by Judge Yitzhak Lubotzky indicates the woman had been allowed to work at the center as a volunteer. She customarily fed the children, played with them, put them to bed, washed dishes, supervised the playground and cleaned up the sleeping and play area.

In the opinion of the nursery teachers, she fulfilled her position faithfully, diligently and pleasantly. However, she did not fill a formal position in the day care center, did not clock in and her name did not appear on Na'amat's personnel list.

The claim filed by the woman claims she should not be considered a volunteer but a full-fledged employee, since there is no permit for employment of volunteers as nursery school assistants.

She also alleges she participated in all of the center's usual activities. She said she had occasionally spoken with the nursery school teachers about the possibility of receiving a salary, and had not been specifically told that she would not receive one.

Na'amat claims her integration into the child care center was part of an effort by Na'amat to incorporate disabled volunteers into child day care centers within the framework of a humanitarian and social program, and not for economic reasons. Judge Lubotzky ruled "the woman had performed work in the legal sense, and should be compensated for it, even if the work at the day care center contributed a great deal to her well-being.

"A nursery is an economic entity which enjoys her services, and even if she gained many added benefit s from the nursery, she was not materially compensated for her work capacity. Her work was necessary to the center's operation. Even though she did not clock in and did not participate in team meetings, she performed most of the activities the nursery required," he added. In addition to the sum awarded by the judge, Na'amat is required to pay court costs.