Ministry of Economy and Industry | Directorate General of Labor
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT 2021
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT
The Commissioner for ForeignWorkers’ Labor Rights Unit
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT 2021
The Commissioner for Foreign Workers’ Labor Rights Unit
INTRODUCTION We are pleased to present the Minister of Economy and Industry with the third annual report of the Commissioner for Foreign Workers' Labor Rights Unit (hereinafter: "the Unit" and/or "the Commissioner"). The report details the work of the Unit, that strives to promote the safeguarding of foreign workers' rights in Israel, and its main achievements during the past year. The population of foreign workers in Israel numbers approximately 102,300 workers with a work permit, over 80 thousand Palestinian workers, 1 and 19,800 migrant workers without work permits. 2 These workers are primarily employed in the caregiving, agriculture, and construction sectors. At the same time, there are also 29,973 asylum seekers living in Israel, generally working in arduous and complex jobs for relatively low wages. The Commissioner operates by virtue of Section 1 (22a) of the Foreign Workers Law-1991 (hereinafter: "the Law") and is responsible for safeguarding the labor rights of foreign workers currently employed in the State of Israel. This activity, the result of an amendment to the Law that came into effect in 2010, is undertaken in conjunctionwithother government units suchas the LaborDivision's Enforcement andCriminal Prosecution Administration, the relevant departments in the Population and Immigration Authority, and the relevant professional entities in various government departments, and is aimed at bolstering the safeguarding of foreign workers' rights. The Commissioner has been given various authorities to enable it to fulfill its role in realizing this objective. Among others, it has been granted authority to cultivate public awareness of issues under its jurisdiction via education etc., to collaborate with other people or entities in areas under its responsibility including both employers and employees, to intervene in legal procedures in those areas under its jurisdiction in the relevant labor tribunal or court, to address complaints from foreign workers against employers and to undertake any other action it is legally charged with. This report, presented in accordance with Section 6e (2) of the Law, details the Commissioner's objectives and goals, its areas of responsibility and authority, the services it provides to citizens, and the criteria according to which the Commissioner chooses the legal cases referred to her, while surveying its activity during 2021.
The Unit's team hopes that this report will help you become familiar with and learn about its activity in promoting the safeguarding of foreign workers' rights in the Israeli labor market.
1 According to figures provided by the Civil Administration 2 Source: The Population and Immigration Authority's Foreign Workers Report Q3 2021 published in October 2021.
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT 2021
Commissioner's Remarks 2021 was characterized by unusual situations that became an integral part of daily reality. This was a particularly challenging year – alongside their hard and sometimes complex work, far from their homes and families, the foreign workers also contended with the various influences of the Covid pandemic and even, with the latest round of violence in Gaza in May 2021. The difficulty of these workers in Israeli reality is unique both in terms of the social and cultural distance and isolation they experience and, because for most of them, the threat of rockets and alerts is a new and profoundly unsettling difficulty. Consequently, the Unit's activity focused on three central goals during the past year: (1) to constitute an address for foreignworkers in recognizing and exercising their labor rights; (2) to identify existing disparities andneeds inexercisingandadvancingworkers' rights; (3) tocreatecollaborationswithrelevant stakeholders. The past year was characterized by a marked increase in the number of queries submitted to the Unit: 1,750 queries from workers and employers and an additional 240 that were related to Covid issues. The marked rise in the number of foreignworkers contacting theUnit is evidence of the significant exposure it has gained. The Unit also conducted numerous explanatory and public relations activities during the year. This activity culminated in a conference held in a roundtable format. This conference, conducted in conjunction with the Institute of Immigration and Social Integration of the Ruppin Academic Center, assembled people from all fields related to foreign workers in the caregiving and agriculture sectors with the aim of discussing their problems anddifficulties. The conference led to collaborations that continuedduring2022 including, among others, studies on sexual harassment among women workers in caregiving and agriculture, and formulation of a guide that stipulates principles pertaining to female foreign workers and the terms of their employment. Educational and explanatory activities also included several lectures and the publication of brochures and booklets to workers and employers. Furthermore, the Unit continued extensive activity on its Facebook page, publishing numerous posts on various subjects identified as problematic or that raised questions among foreign workers. The Unit also held a "live" Facebook broadcast where foreign workers could directly refer questions to the Unit's team about terms of employment. As part of the efforts to identify needs and disparities relating to the terms of foreign workers' employment, the Unit conducted visits of their workplaces and accommodation. During these visits, the Unit team talked with the foreign workers to hear about their difficulties and, where possible, to provide them with a suitable response and solution. Oneof themainproblems identifiedby theUnit during2021 is the foreignworkers' difficulty inunderstanding their rights due to language issues. To contend with this difficulty, the Unit is promoting efforts to translate the foreign workers' pay slips and takes care to translate all its relevant explanatory material into different languages. Another significant change during 2021 was the re-establishment of the Foreign Workers Knesset Committee. This committee constitutes an important forum for raising disparities and difficulties faced by foreign workers. The committee convened government entities together with NGOs and other parties
in the Israeli economy to discuss problems and formulate a response. The Unit is an integral part of these discussions and expresses a professional stance on the issues raised out of an aim to promote the exercising of foreign workers' rights and to air their views. Throughout the year, the Unit enacted collaborations with a diverse range of parties – both governmental and NGOs. For example, the Unit operates together with civil society organizations to address queries, collaborates with embassies to expand the Unit's exposure among the foreign workers, and engages in significant regulatory activity such as bilateral agreements and interdepartmental teams some of which are detailed in this report. The Unit will continue during 2022-2023 to implement the strategic plan, to serve as a professional and human contact for foreign workers, to strive to identify harmful structures and to safeguard the rights of foreign workers in Israel as a national interest. This presentation of the Annual Report to the Minister of Economy and Industry is an excellent opportunity to express my thanks to all our partners – government departments, civil society, organizations and stakeholders, to the men and women of the Labor Division and especially, to the Unit's professional and dedicated team that works determinedly and with great dedication to advance the safeguarding of the rights of foreign workers in Israel for the benefit of society in general.
Adv. Shiri Lev-Ran Lavi, The Commissioner for ForeignWorkers' Labor Rights
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT 2021
The Commissioner's Goals
The Commissioner for Foreign Workers' Labor Rights Unit vision is to strive, via various collaborations, to realize the national interest of reducing and preventing the violation of all foreign workers' rights.
1 | Values
2 | Strategic Goals
The Unit’s work in the field of foreign workers’ labor rights is based on three central values:
The 2021-2022 strategic plan of the Commissioner for Foreign Workers’ Labor Rights Unit is based on three strategic goals: 2.1. To constitute an address for foreign workers in order to recognize and exercise their labor rights. 2.2. To identify existing needs and disparities in order to exercise and advance their rights alongside intervention in legal issues and procedures relating to the Commissioner’s area of expertise. 2.3. To act efficiently, while creating partnerships with stakeholders and utilizing existing resources. Diverse means and methods of action were defined for each of the strategic goals to aid in their implementation.
Equality: promoting an equitable approach towards foreign workers that will lead to the safeguarding of all workers’ rights. Partnership: building productive and reciprocal work relations with organizations and institutions from the three sectors – public, business, and non-profit – in a way that will enable the Unit to advance its goals.
professional knowledge, information
The Commissioner's Areas of Responsibility and Authorities
As defined by law, the Commissioner's areas of responsibility and its authorities focus on four central fields:
Educational Activity: cultivation of public awareness about issues under the jurisdiction of the Unit, via education, training, and explanatory and public relations activity, providing a response to queries, publication of updates on the Unit website, lectures to parties with vested interests, etc. Regulation: The Commissioner is authorized, among other things, to collaborate with parties within and outside government, including with employers and workers. This collaboration is aimed at promoting the designation of actions and regulations the objective of which is the regulation of foreign workers' employment, while safeguarding their rights and the interests of the State of Israel and its citizens. Handling Complaints: in this capacity, the Commissioner is authorized, among other things, to receive complaints pertaining to violations of foreign workers' labor rights by their indirect or direct employer, or by the agent who arranged their employment in Israel. After receiving the complaint, the Commissioner is authorized to proceed with its investigation. To do so, the Commissioner may, among others, demand information about the foreign worker's employment from his direct or indirect employer, or from the agent who arranged their employment in Israel. After investigating the complaint, the Commissioner is authorized to adopt one of the following courses of action: to reject the complaint outright, to refer it to another body authorized to examine the complaint, to refer the complainant and the subject of the complaint to mediation, or to submit or join a civil lawsuit regarding the foreign worker's labor rights. The first, the Commissioner's involvement in legal proceedings pertaining to issues within her area of responsibility. Such involvement will be at the request of the court or the parties or at the initiative of the Commissioner herself. The involvement will be in the Labor Court or other qualified court before which the proceeding is being conducted. The Commissioner is also partner to the state's position in her areas of responsibility. Second, the Commissioner is entitled to initiate such proceedings as the result of findings revealed when investigating a complaint submitted to her about a violation of foreign workers' labor rights. This is done on the basis of the priorities and criteria determined by the Commissioner in accordance with her legal authority. Legal Proceedings: this area, that focuses primarily on civil proceedings, as well as the authorities and activity of the Enforcement Administration, is divided into two fields:
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT 2021
Handling of Workers' Queries by the Commissioner's Unit
One of the central roles of the Commissioner for Foreign Workers' Labor Rights Unit is the handling of queries from workers and employers. This role is derived from Section 1(26) of the Law that pertains to the submission and processing of complaints. The Unit is available to address complaints from foreign workers on issues relating to work relations regardless of their status in Israel. This is in addition to queries fromother parties such as employers, civil and private sector organizations, public and international entities etc. with each query receiving a response according to its specific content and nature.
There are two main stages in handling queries submitted to the Unit by workers and employers:
Stage 1 | Initial Legal Information and Advice
In the initial stage, the applicant provides information that describes the reasons for the complaint. In accordance with the information received, the Commissioner's Unit provides, within a reasonable period, relevant information and initial legal advice. If necessary, further clarification is carried out with the worker. Requests for information receive an immediate response and are then generally closed. In this regard, it should be noted that we encourage people contacting the Unit to use the Commissioner for Foreign Workers' Labor Rights Unit website or its Facebook page which provide in-depth information about foreign workers' rights (Website, Facebook Page).
Stage 2 | Initial Clarification with theWorker or Employer
In appropriate cases, an initial clarification will be undertaken with the worker and/or the employer and/or the bureau or any other brokering entity with whom the worker is registered, via a verbal or written enquiry. During this process, the sides will be asked to present further data and/or supplementary information. After receiving the relevant details, the Unit will operate via several channels according to the circumstances of each case: • Direct handling of the complaint with the employer and/or the worker • Referring the complaint to the relevant government departments and/or other qualified external entity • Transferring the case to the Enforcement Administration of the Labor Division • Mediation between the parties Upon completionof the process, theworker will receive anupdate about closure of the case and, if necessary, the Unit will monitor developments to ensure that the parties adhere to the terms agreed. This is the place to add that only a few queries necessitate another legal proceeding, as the parties generally reach agreement at this stage of the process.
It should be emphasized that the Commissioner's investigation of a query should not be viewed as adoption of any factual or legal stance, or even as an undertaking to represent the enquirer.
The Commissioner's Unit received over 1,750 queries in 2021, a significant increase compared to the period when the present Commissioner assumed the position in June 2018. The Commissioner has the authority to represent those applying to the Unit in the Labor Court or to take part in a legal proceeding in the Court Authority. In 2021, the Commissioner joined as an 'amicus curiae' (a "friend of the court") in a legal proceeding submitted by a farmer against the Population and Immigration Authority following a decision by the Authority's Director-General to revoke his license to employ foreign workers. It should be noted that any intervention by the Commissioner is done in accordance with the authority granted her in Section 1(23) b and Section 1(26) d of the Law to determine priorities and preference pertaining to investigating complaints and submitting claims: 26a (4): The Commissioner for ForeignWorkers' Rights may determinemethods of handling complaints according to the provisions of this section, including priorities and preferences pertaining to investigation of complaints and submission of claims.
As part of this authority, criteria were established for choosing cases in which the Commissioner will be involved. These criteria are detailed in the legal chapter of this report.
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT 2021
The Commissioner for Foreign Workers' Labor Rights Unit handled 1,750 queries in 2021. As mentioned above, each query submitted to the Unit is given information and initial legal advice and, if necessary, initial clarification is undertaken with the employer and/or office or company with whom the worker and employer are registered. This chapter will present important data about the queries received and will explain how they reflect the significant activity of the Commissioner's Unit.
Diagram 1 | Distribution of Queries 2019-2021
Employees Employers Others
Diagram 1 presents the distribution of the number of queries between 2019-2021. The figures show a consistent increase in the general number of queries due to a large rise in the number of queries submitted to the Unit by employers. This number testifies to greater awareness among foreign workers, both about their rights and the possibility of receiving assistance in exercising these rights from the Commissioner's Unit.
Diagram 2 | No. of Monthly Queries in 2021
May June July Aug.
No. of queries
Diagram 2 presents the number of monthly queries, revealing a monthly average of 146 queries and a daily average of 5. It should be noted that the daily average takes into account queries received on Shabbat and holidays and does not reflect queries that take several days to resolve. Furthermore, the figures reflect the influence of external events on the number of monthly queries. For example, the increase in queries during February-March reflects the national vaccination campaign conducted to eradicate the Covid virus. The figures demonstrate the tremendous effort invested by the Commissioner's Unit in handling queries. Many queries repeat themselves such as requests for information that are usually answered specifically and immediately, however many queries require ongoing attention. Despite the increase in the number of queries, the average response time declines each year as can be seen in the diagram below:
Average Response Time (in days)
Moreover, throughout this period, most of the queries submitted to the Unit were answered within one working day, and in 2021, approximately 72 percent were answered within this time. Diagram 3 shows the distribution of response time to queries throughout the year.
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT 2021
Diagram 3 | Query Response Time
Over 7 days 1-7 days Within 1 day
2 | Channels for Submitting a Query
Diagrams 4 and 5 show that themain channel of communicationwith the Commissioner's Unit is via its email however the data indicates that foreign workers prefer to use WhatsApp to contact the Unit, apparently because of the app's easy use and accessibility via a mobile phone.
Diagram 4 | Employees' Queries
Public Inquiries Dept. WhatsApp Telephone Email
Diagram 5 | Queries - General
Public Inquiries Dept. WhatsApp Telephone Email
3. Sectors of Employment
Diagrams 6 and 7 present the number and ratio of queries received from each sector of employment during 2021. The sector with the largest number of queries was the caregiving sector and 73 percent of all queries related to this area. This high percentage is consistent with the sector that employs the largest proportion of foreignworkers residing permanently in Israel, withmore than 70 thousandworkers (both legal and illegal). 3 The next most prominent sectors are agriculture with 26 thousand foreign workers and construction with 18 thousand. In addition to the foreign workers who live in Israel, there are also 63 thousand Palestinians working in the construction sector and 14 thousand working in agriculture. 4 These figures show that the ratio of queries from the agriculture and construction sectors is disproportionate to the number of workers employed in these areas. One possible reason for this disparity is that these workers come to Israel through bilateral agreements and frequently contact their own hotline operated by CIMI.
3 According to The Population and Immigration Authority's Foreign Workers Report Q3 2021. 4 According to data received from the Civil Administration.
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT 2021
Diagram 6 | Queries by Sector - General
Agriculture Construction Industry & Services Caregiving Hotel Cleaning Experts Other
Diagram 7 | Queries by Sector - Employees
Agriculture Construction Industry & Services Caregiving Hotel Cleaning Experts Other
4 | Distribution by Query Subject
Diagrams 8, 9, and 10 show the distribution of the subjects of queries submitted to the Commissioner's Unit. These diagrams demonstrate the variety of subjects on which workers and employers submit queries and to which the Commissioner's Unit provide a response. As in 2020, Covid continued to feature prominently as a subject of many queries during 2021. Approximately 240 of these were handled without being registered in the system because the subject they addressed is not under the Commissioner's jurisdiction. As Diagram 8 shows, the leading subjects of the queries submitted to the Commissioner's Unit during the past year related to salaries and social benefits, followed by pension, and compensation payments. The prominence
of these subjects together with others such as dismissal, resignation, foreign workers' deposit, and queries about pregnancy and birth, testify to awareness of and the significant occupation with foreign workers' labor rights. Furthermore, a high number of queries was registered asking to clarify information on a variety of subjects. Such queries are important because they can guide employers and workers in how to exercise foreign workers' rights and prevent future problems. Sexual harassment is an important issue but was the subject of only few queries. The Commissioner's Unit designated the raising of awareness about this issue as one of its goals for 2022 to be achieved via a joint study together with The Institute for Immigration and Social Integration at the Ruppin Academic Center, and various posts and publications. Following the instruction of the Chairwoman of the Knesset Foreign Workers Committee, an interdepartmental team began operating in 2021. This topic is presented in detail in the Regularization Chapter.
Diagram 8 | Query Subject
Dismissal Resignation Social Rights Covid Information Requests Work Permit Wages
Pension and Compensation Foreign Workers’ Deposit
Sexual Harassment Pregnancy and Birth Other
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Diagram 9 | Query Subject by Sector
Pension and Compensation
Pregnancy and Birth
Agriculture and trainees Palestinians
Diagram 9 shows the distribution of query subjects in relation to the largest sectors of employment, and for Palestinian workers (where there is a small degree of duplication due to the fact that some of the Palestinians are employed in construction and agriculture). The graph demonstrates the important issues in each sector and can provide the Unit an indication of the areas that require increased explanatory activity among foreign workers to help them exercise their rights. It also points to the problems occupying those working in home caregiving with regard to their social benefits, salaries, and the termination of their employment. The construction sector shows a high number of queries on issues of salaries, social benefits, and work permits. In agriculture, the subject with the highest number of queries is pension and compensation, while among Palestinians the leading subjects were salaries and social benefits.
Diagram 10 | Queries About Social Rights
Parallel Employment Worker’s Death Worker’s Illness Convalescence Pay Health Insurance Work Accidents Work and Rest Times Work Conditions Living Conditions Vacation and Holidays
The term "social benefits" refers to a large set of subjects. Diagram 10 presents these subjects and the distribution of queries about them and shows that most of the queries relate to vacation, holidays, and rest days. Other prominent issues are sick-leave, work and rest hours, and parallel employment. As a result of the large number of queries related to parallel employment, the Commissioner's Unit published a special brochure at the beginning of 2022, most of the preparatory work on which was done in the previous year.
Over the past year, the Commissioner's team successfully handled a large number of queries. The Unit's assistance and intervention have enabledmany workers to successfully exercise their social benefit rights. It should be noted that indirect assistance is also given to employers – the intervention and ability to help the parties reach an agreement leading to considerable saving of both parties' legal and other expenses.
Some of the cases were complex and required special sensitivity and creativity:
• "N"works in the home caregiving sector. Duringher work, she experienced emotional distress, seemingly because she was refused permission to take time off on her weekly rest day. "N" felt that she was left with no choice but to resign from her job to preserve her health. She notified the patient's daughter of her intention to leave but the daughter chose to ignore her, thereby forcing "N" to remain against her will. Out of a sense of personal responsibility, and although she could have legally left after the advance notice period she gave had passed, "N" was unwilling to leave the patient before knowingwhowas going to care for him. This situation intensified her distress, and she contacted the Commissioner's Unit for assistance. The Unit made significant efforts to locate a relevant representative from the city Welfare Department and, thanks to the intervention of the Unit and the Welfare Department representative, the worker and the patient's daughter reached an agreement whereby "N" would leave three days later. During the intervening period, the Commissioner's Unit maintained ongoing contact with the worker, ensuring that her emotional condition did not deteriorate further and that her employment was concluded as agreed between the parties.
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• "R" is a Ugandan citizen who came to Israel as an agricultural trainee. After his work permit expired, he began to work (without a permit) via a contracting company in a restaurant in central Israel. About six weeks later, he was apprehended by the immigration authorities and deported from the country before being able to calculate outstanding payments due to him or to exercise his rights, including not being paid for the second month he worked at the restaurant. After returning to Uganda, "R" contacted the Prime Minister's Office requesting assistance and was referred to the Commissioner's Unit which then contacted "R", the restaurant owner, and a representative of contracting company through which he was employed – to arrange payment of the outstanding salary. The Unit's efforts were successful and encouraged the worker's friends, who had worked with him at the same restaurant and had also been deported, to contact the Commissioner's Unit for help in receiving their outstanding salaries. Here too, thanks to the intervention of the Commissioner's Unit, the workers successfully received their salary. • "S" is a Palestinian worker in the agriculture sector who was injured in an accident outside work hours. Although the worker was forced to take several months sick leave, the employer failed to pay him for the sick leave days he had accumulated. The worker does not speak Hebrew and his son therefore contacted the Commissioner's Unit after finding the relevant telephone number on his father's pay slip. The Commissioner's Unit explained the legal situation to the son and recommended that he contact the employer directly. After this approach failed toachieveany results, heagaincontacted theCommissioner's Unit and requested its intervention. The Commissioner contacted the employer and stressed their legal obligations which they claimed to be unaware of. Several weeks later, the worker received the relevant sick leave payment.
Public Explanatory Activity
Conferences and Seminars
A Round Table Seminar at the Ruppin Academic Center
The Commissioner's Unit, in conjunction with the Institute for Immigration and Social Integration at the Ruppin Academic Center, organized a round table seminar that was held in July 2021. Among the seminar's participants were government entities, representatives from NGOs, employers, and academics – a total of 39 people from 22 different entities. The seminar participants discussed two issues identified as the most significant and influential of all the queries submitted by foreign workers: "Social Mobility and Isolation" and "Uncertainty and Access to Information" in the caregiving and agriculture sectors. The seminar had several primary goals: to map the terms of employment and primary challenges in the agriculture and caregiving sectors; to initiate a process to formulate a position paper, including a solution for challenges on the ground, recommendations for change and practical methods for action and implementation; to create an infrastructure for a joint forum that includes all the relevant parties of interest – government departments, nonprofit organizations, academia, and workers' representatives. The discussion took place at four round tables addressing the caregiving and agriculture sectors and the two issues mentioned above. At the end of the seminar, each table presented the problems and challenges they found and proposed alternative optimal solutions. Among the proposals raised for the caregiving sector were: a letter of recommendation to advance policy that focuses on daycare centers for the elderly, with an emphasis on their significance and advantages for the welfare of foreign workers employed in caregiving; composing a written guide for the caregivers, the patients, and their families, including a description of the caregiver's role and detailed information about the extent and limitations of caregiving; explanations about the use and advantages of translated pay slips; promoting the calculation of job percentages on the pay slip for National Insurance purposes, and developing an app to help exercise rights.
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT 2021
In the agriculture sector, it was decided to advance the following steps: public explanatory activity about the use and advantages of translated pay slips; evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of the sector's transition to an employment model using human resources companies such as the one used in the construction sector and composing an appropriate document of recommendations; dealing with abuse of female foreign workers in the agriculture sector by publishing regulations for separate living quarters and creating a digital platform for transferring information to foreign workers. Furthermore, it was decided that the Institute for Immigration and Social Integration at the Ruppin Academic Center would lead three studies expected to begin in January 2022 on the following topics: sexual harassment among home caregiving workers, burnout among workers in the caregiving sector, and the need to unionize workers in the agriculture sector. Smaller work groups convened after the seminar to discuss, refine, and develop alternative solutions. Several months later, a booklet was sent to the seminar participants. For the booklets to have added value for the participants, as the seminar did, the contents included a summary of the introductory lecture, an in depth description of the subjects discussed at the round tables while emphasizing the different viewpoints, referring to the proposed alternatives, and while also mentioning the involved parties, necessary actions that need to be taken in light of the topics discussed, and the schedule for these actions.
Agricultural Bureaus Conference
Together with the Population and Immigration Authority, the Commissioner's Unit conducted a conference in February for the foreign workers' bureaus in the agriculture sector. The conference, held via Zoom, addressed the subject of rights, obligations, and conditions of employment in the agriculture sector. As part of the conference, two lectures were given – one by the Commissioner's Unit team explaining and detailing the labor rights of foreign workers in the agriculture sector; and the second by the Population and Immigration Authority on foreign workers' queries and their handling by the bureaus.
An important part of the public explanatory activity of the Commissioner's Unit are lectures on the Unit's activity. During 2021, the Commissioner's staff delivered 14 such lectures to various audiences. The lectures focused on presenting information about the employment of foreign workers in Israel, and explanations about their labor rights and their options if these rights are violated. The lectures included:
• A lecture for Thai workers who came to Israel to work in agriculture (February, May).
• A lecture for the ImmigrationAuthority employees, who oversee the conditions of foreignworkers arriving in Israel by virtue of bilateral agreements, about the rights of caregiving workers (February).
• A lecture for the employees of the Ministry of Economy's Division on the rights of caregiving employees (March).
• A lecture for participants in an enforcement course of the Immigration Authority about the Unit's activity (June).
• A lecture together with the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities about the rights of foreign workers' rights in the caregiving sector (June-July).
• A lecture for human resources employees in the 'Isrotel' hotel network about Palestinian laborers' rights (October).
• A lecture for the staff of a shelter for victims of trafficking about foreign workers' issues (October).
• A lecture for the OECD organization presenting the Unit and its work and conducting a discussion about sanctions and compliance with the conditions of the bilateral agreements (November).
• Participation in a panel addressing the prevention of human trafficking conducted by representatives of government and civic society organizations about ways to advance the struggle against human trafficking in Israel (December).
• A lecture for the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims about the rights of foreign caregiving workers (December).
• A lecture for high school students and teachers at Kfar Hayarok about labor migration and the rights of migrant workers as part of "Human Rights Day" (December).
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Caregiving Rights Trustees Project
The Commissioner's Unit has identified the need to constitute a reliable professional contact with the caregiving bureaus regarding labor relations and laws in order to advance and safeguard the rights of foreign caregiving workers. The Unit launched the "Caregiving Rights Trustees" Project in which workers from different bureaus received training from the Unit to be able to serve as an initial reliable point of contact for foreignworkers, patients, and their colleagues at thebureau. The rights trustees at thebureauwill serve as an initial sourceof informationon issues of labor relations and laws, will be able to resolve conflicts professionally and efficiently, will be responsible for the connection and coordination with the Commissioner's Unit, and will serve as a direct address for the Commissioner's queries related to workers listed under their bureau. After successfully completing the training, each worker received an official certificate from the Unit. The training of the rights trustees took place over six different sessions. The first of these presented the Commissioner's Unit and its activity, defined the role of the rights trustees, and explained how to contend with and guide foreign workers in times of emergency such as the Covid pandemic and missile alerts. The second session surveyed the phenomenon of human trafficking in relation to foreign workers with the aim of giving the caregiving bureaus tools to identify and contendwith this problem. The third session expanded the rights trustees' knowledge of labor laws and rights of foreign workers in the field of caregiving. Among the issues addressed in this session were workers' salaries, work hours and rest days, medical insurance and sick leave, parallel employment with a caregiving company, dismissal, etc. The fourth session dealt with prevention of sexual harassment and the fifth session with the complexity involved in parallel employment with caregiving companies. Considering that there are bureaus around the country and due to the Covid pandemic, all the sessions were conducted via Zoom except the last session which was held at the Unit's office in Jerusalem. The final session summarized the issues discussed during the previous sessions and emphasized the goal, role, and importance of the rights trustees as a tool for aiding the exercising of the rights and obligations of foreign workers and their employers. The final session also included a lecture on mediation and creative ways of resolving conflicts aimed at providing the bureau employees with the tools for resolving conflicts between therapists and patients. For this project, the Commissioner's Unit created a designated website containing information about the Unit, the presentations delivered during the lectures, including the sessions' video clips and recordings, information about labor laws relating to foreign workers and other information on the role of rights trustees. The website also enables to chat with the Commissioner's Unit. Link to the Rights Trustees website
The project received positive feedback from the participants who emphasized that it provided them with significant information:
The project's lectures were relevant to me (1 – strongly disagree, 5 – strongly agree)
The project enriched my knowledge of labor laws in the caregiving field (1 – strongly disagree, 5 – strongly agree)
10% 10% 10%
The above graphs present the feedback received from the project's participants at the end of the training. As can be seen, a large majority felt that the lectures were relevant to them and that the project enriched their knowledge.
Some of the course participants also wrote why the project was important for them:
"This is a welcome project fromevery possible aspect. As a private bureauworkingwith thousands of foreign workers, it is very important to me to give accurate, reliable, and updated information about their rights".
"… for me, as a bureau employee, who often felt lost, you suddenly appeared as a ״ lifeline ״ . The need to see us, to give us tools, interesting, fascinating Zoom sessions that enriched us and enable us to be better and more professional". "The project contributed on several levels. Because of the complexity of this field that includes two weaker populations who need each other, a constant balance must be maintained between them. The private bureaus' cooperation with government entities is vital for all parties to derive benefit and so that both parties' rights and obligations are safeguarded and enforced (as much as possible)". "The Zoom sessions contributed to a sense of cooperation and discussed important topics. The course also reinforced the feeling that there is an address for more complex issues where the proposed solution is not unequivocal".
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Participation in Knesset Committees
With the formation of the government in 2021, the Special Committee on Foreign Workers led by MK Ibtisam Mara'ana resumed its activity. The Commissioner's Unit is an active participant in the committee, presenting its views and highlighting the complexities that exist in the field from the viewpoint of workers' rights. Following a discussion on sexual harassment, the Commissioner published a letter to workers and employers in the agriculture sector clarifying the regulations pertaining to separate accommodation for men and women and initiated the convening of an interdepartmental team to examine and contend with the phenomenon of sexual harassment in the fields of agriculture and caregiving. In addition to the Foreign Workers Committee, the Unit participated in several other committees, such as the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, the Labor and Welfare Committee, and the Economic Affairs Committee. The Unit's representatives presented each of these committees with the Commissioner's view of the issue under discussion and its influence on foreign workers' rights. For example, in a discussion of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee held on October 26 entitled "Proposed Administrative Offenses Ordinances (Administrative Fine – Limiting the Use of Cash)-2021", the Commissioner presented the ministry's viewwhereby the law, the goal of which was to reduce the use of cash, may harmworkers earning low wages, a category to which most foreign workers belong. As part of the Commissioner Unit's public explanatory activity, the Commissioner is attentive to the needs and difficulties of the foreign workers and their employers. Therefore, during the year, the Commissioner's Unit published several letters and rights booklets on various subjects in which a need to concentrate and increase access to relevant information had been identified. These publications were intended to assist both the workers and their employers in exercising their rights and meeting their obligations. The letters concentrated information on specific topics and referred readers to further information sources, forms, and ways to communicate with relevant entities. 1. A letter to the employer of a foreign caregiver – 2021: this letter details the entire procedure involved in employing a foreign caregiver and explains the work conditions that foreign caregivers are entitled to. The letter is republished each year according to changes in sums deducted from workers' wages. 2. A letter on parallel employment with a caregiving company: the letter explains the way in which the patient's share of the caregiver's wage is to be calculated with caregiving companies, thereby safeguarding the rights of foreign workers employed in home caregiving. 3. A letter about the sick leave of a foreign worker employed in home caregiving: this letter details the scope of sick leave and the proper accommodation to which a foreign worker employed in caregiving is entitled. Publications
4. A letter to the bureaus about assistance for foreign workers following missile attacks during Operation "Guardian of the Walls".
5. A letter to foreign women workers in the agriculture sector on the subject of separate accommodation: this letter explained the regulations obligating employers in the agriculture sector with regard to separate accommodation for men and women. The letter was even translated into Thai to make the information accessible to female workers arriving from Thailand to work in agriculture. 6. A letter about identifying signs of emotional distress among foreign workers: the letter was published after a tragic event – the suicide of a foreign female caregiving worker who apparently showed signs of distress that were not identified in time.
7. A letter to foreignworkers in the agriculture sector about pay for working on holidays , that was also published in Thai.
8. A booklet of rights for foreign workers participating in ongoing training programs in agriculture, as part of a Ministry of Foreign Affairs program – see the Ongoing Education Chapter for more details.
Since 2020, the Commissioner's Unit has independently operated the ׳ Commissioner of Foreign Workers' Labor Rights" Facebook page. On the page, the Unit publishes twice-weekly updates with information for workers and employers about foreign workers' rights and the Unit's ongoing activity. The Facebook page is an accessible way for workers and employers to receive information about important topical issues and to get to know the Unit so that they will know who to turn to in times of need for assistance in exercising their rights. It is important to note that all the information published on the site is translated into English and many of the posts are translated into other foreign languages such as Arabic, Russian, and Thai. During 2021, the Unit published 91 posts which were widely shared. As of the end of 2021, the number of followers on the Unit's Facebook page stood at 9,591, an increase of almost 4,000 during the past year!
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT 2021
Following the events of the past year, posts were published about the Covid pandemic, health insurance, and guidance on ways to contend with missile alerts. At the same time, the Unit published posts on issues that queries received from workers and employers identified as misunderstood or problematic. Several of the posts appear below:
Wages on weekly rest day: the post details five things that are important for foreign workers to know about working on the weekly rest day. This post was viewed 40,074 times and clicked on 5,853 times.
Death of a patient: this post addresses the sensitivities involved when a foreign caregiver's patient dies. The post clarifies the worker's status and rights upon the patient's death. This post was viewed 11,354 times and the link appearing in it was clicked on 1,742 times. Information for workers in the different sectors ahead of the holiday period: this post concentrates important information for foreign workers in the agriculture, caregiving, and construction sectors about workers' rights during the holiday period. The post details entitlement to vacation during this period and the calculation of payment for work on holidays. This post was viewed 5,874 times and clicked on 229 times. Suitable accommodation: this post addresses the suitable accommodation conditions for foreign workers. The post details the employer's obligation to provide suitable accommodation for all the foreign workers and the minimal standards to which it must conform. This post was viewed 6,237 times and clicked on 471 times.
The Commissioner's Unit conducted a "Facebook Live" broadcast in December 2021. During the event, the Unit's team answered questions from foreign workers. This is an excellent way for the Unit to directly hear about foreign workers' needs and for the foreign workers to receive a direct and immediate response to all their questions. Two "Facebook Live" broadcasts were conducted, the second of them together with the Moldovan ambassador who translated the answers to Moldovan for the foreign workers from that country. 81 foreign workers participated at the height of the first "live" broadcast and 480 in the second. In the days following the broadcast 21 queries were received by the Unit (in 2021) stating that they were submitted as the result of the broadcast, an indication of the effectiveness of "live" Facebook broadcasts.
Facebook Page Interaction Figures
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