Foreign Workers to Receive Same Social Benefits as Israelis

3 July 2014

In a major victory for social justice, Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that foreign workers in the nursing care sector who have been in Israel more than 10 years should be given the same social benefits and health insurance rights as Israeli citizens. The decision followed a petition by NIF grantee Kav La’Oved – the Worker’s Hotline for the Protection of Worker’s Rights.

In her precedent-setting ruling, Justice Edna Arbel wrote: “I don’t think one can benefit from the good service of foreign workers and from the benefits their services provide the Israeli economy and its citizens without accepting the burden of the rights those workers are entitled to. One cannot relate to foreign workers as merely useful means, which is not consistent with the value of human dignity.”

In response, Kav La’Oved lawyer Hanni Ben-Yisrael said: “These are workers who live away from their families, spend the best part of their lives in Israel performing tireless work, which only becomes more difficult with time. They make an incalculable contribution – not only to the people they care for, but also to the wider Israeli society. The Supreme Court has ruled what should have been obvious: those who have lived and worked here for many years should not be excluded from social benefits and health insurance laws.”

In another petition, the panel ruled 5-4 against applying the Work and Rest Hours Law to foreign workers, which would require overtime pay. Kav La’Oved will continue to advocate on behalf of the 300,000 foreign workers currently in Israel.