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    Employing a Foreign Worker

    Important things you should know if you are planning to hire a foreign worker

    Last update: 05/12/21

    An official permit to employ a foreign worker is given based on the eligibility conditions listed below, plus a Dependence Evaluation, conducted by the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) or the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority.

    Who is entitled to employ a foreign worker?

    * A permit to employ a foreign worker is not given to persons residing in institutions (hospitals, nursing/ complex nursing units, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes etc.) with the exception of  elderly individuals living in retirement homes or assisted living facilities that do not provide nursing care services.

    * The basic requirement for a permit to employ a foreign worker is for the person in need to have reached retirement age (unless the person is disabled and receives a Special Services stipend from Bituach Leumi , in which case age is not a restrictive stipulation). The person requesting the permit must have  scored a minimum of 4.5 points in the Dependence Evaluation, administered when claiming  the Long-Term Care Benefit from Bituach Leumi.  An elderly person living alone can obtain the permit even if he scored only 4 points, added to the points given for living alone.

    * Under specific circumstance, an elderly person who scored  “only” 2.5 to 4 points in the Dependence Evaluation can nevertheless apply for the permit to employ a foreign worker:

    For example, if the elderly person is over 85, and presents medical documents testifying to his need for 24-hour care or supervision.

     Also, if the elderly individual  lives with another disabled family member or has at least three children under the age of 16.  A permit can also be requested for persons with cancer or another terminal illness necessitating constant supervision.

    * A person who is 90 years of age or older is entitled to a permit to employ a foreign worker even if he scored only 4 points in the Dependence Evaluation of the Bituach Leumi or Population & Immigration Authority.

    * Individuals about to be released from the hospital have another option .They may apply for a permit by presenting a written medical diagnosis from a hospital physician, which indicates the estimated date of release and the need for continuity of care (A hospital social worker or private agencies dealing with the employment of foreign workers can assist in this matter).Permits based on this clause are given for 3 months, and only allow hiring a foreign worker who is already in Israel. They do not authorize the importation of a foreign worker from abroad. To extend the permit when the 3 months are over, the applicant must follow the standard procedures.

    * In special cases (other than those mentioned above), people who do not meet the criteria are examined by the medical advisory committee. The committee studies the related documents attached to the application and advises the head of the Unit for Authorization of Foreign Workers at the Israeli  Population and Immigration Authority regarding the need to employ a foreign worker.

    • Since the permit is intended for persons in need of care and supervision most hours of the day, it is not possible to employ a foreign worker part time.
    • More details on eligibility may be found here

    The application process

    The application for a license to employ a foreign worker should be submitted to the Authorization Unit of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. It is a good idea to request assistance from a social worker at a private employment agency licensed to supply foreign workers (“private office”) – which will eventually provide you with the foreign worker. The advisory committee is permitted to ask for additional documents relevant to the situation, such as results of medical tests,  other opinions from medical or welfare professionals, etc.
    As mentioned above, granting the request depends on the results of the Dependence Evaluation administered by Bituach Leumi. The results of this test will be provided by Bituach Leumi directly to the Authorization Unit of the Israeli  Population and Immigration Authority. and there is no need to attach them to the application forms. This is subject to a disclaimer waiving medical confidentiality, signed by the applicant and attached to the application forms.

    The process of applying for a permit to employ a foreign worker for a person not entitled to the Long-Term Care Benefit due to high income

    The Authorization Unit of the Ministry of Interior issued a new regulation, referring to elderly persons, from retirement age and up, who wish to employ foreign workers but have not taken the Dependence Evaluation of Bituach Leumi because, due to their high income,  they never applied for the Long-Term Care Benefit. Such applicants will be directly referred by the Unit to a Dependence Evaluation, as part of the application for a foreign worker.  This process entails an application fee. The applicant will be entitled to a permit if he scores the required points as specified above.

    Permits to employ foreign workers granted in the past by the Employment Service or the Authorization Unit , indicating a permanent need for assistance, as well as applications  from people aged 85 and over, will be extended without reevaluation, as long as the person has not moved to an institution which provides nursing care as part of its services.

    How do you find a foreign worker?

    You can find and employ foreign workers through:

    1. Private agencies that hold a license and permit from the Population and Immigration Authority to import, handle and act as agents for foreign worker in home care. a list is enclosed.
    2.  Nursing care companies – these do not import or place foreign workers, but may be connected to a private agency that does.
    3. If a foreign worker is no longer employed by a former employer, but is still permitted legally to stay in Israel, or when a family wishes to import a specific known worker from abroad, registration at a private agency is required. A foreign worker cannot be employed without registration at an agency.

    Foreign workers’ rights and conditions of employment

    Foreign workers are entitled to all rights included in Israel’s employment laws, and all employment laws pertaining to workers who are Israeli citizens also apply to foreign workers.

    Even though most foreign workers are not aware of their rights in Israel, they must be afforded all social rights that any other worker is entitled to.  Israeli law enforcement authorities can severely punish employers who do not provide the employment conditions presented below.

    Payments to foreign workers

    Salary – the law bases the basic salary for foreign workers on Israel’s minimum wage.  In any event, it is a good idea to consult with a number of agencies supplying the services of  foreign workers, in order  to compare and determine the proper salary.  Remember that the employer is entitled to some funding  from Bituach Leumi, based on home care hours determined in the Dependence Evaluation. Holocaust survivors usually enjoy additional financial assistance towards the worker’s salary from The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel. It is important to determine, right from the start, what currency the salary will be paid in, in order to prevent any future  misunderstandings resulting from exchange rates.

    For the full article on Expenses involved in employing a foreign worker click here.

    Please note that the law allows certain deductions from the foreign worker’s wages. 

    Exchanging hours of the Long-Term Care Benefit  for funds to pay the foreign worker’s salary – As stated above, these hours can be exchanged for money towards the foreign worker’s salary.  This may be done in two different ways:

    * The benefit in cash is deposited directly in the elderly beneficiary’s bank account, without the mediation of an agency  – for persons eligible for a long-term care benefit who employ a caregiver for at least 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. The beneficiary must meet certain criteria.

    * Receiving the money through nursing care companies that provide services in accordance with the long-term care benefit law. Not all manpower companies are also recognized as nursing care companies. When the relevant company is not recognized, the employing family must also register at a nursing care company, through which the cash benefit for paying the worker will be transferred.

    Convalescence pay – Foreign workers are entitled to 5 days of convalescence pay per year. The amount of the convalescence pay is published every year. The amount of days, depends on the seniority. It is important to note that a worker who has not completed a full year of work is not entitled to any convalescence pay.

    Bituach Leumi payments – Since January 2020 Recipients of long-term care benefits, attendance allowance and disabled child allowance, who employ a foreign worker for long-term care purposes -are exempted from reporting and paying insurance contributions on the wage they pay privately to the foreign worker, up to the sum of 5,500 NIS per month.  

    • If the wage you are paying privately to the foreign worker amounts to up to 5,500 NIS per month – you will be exempted from payment of insurance contribution.
    • If the wage you are paying privately to the foreign worker amounts is above 5,500 NIS per month – you have to report and pay contributions only on the wage balance above NIS 5,500 per month.

    pension– Foreign workers, like all workers in Israel, are entitled to a pension and compensations. Since there are no pension funds for foreign workers, the money will be accumulated in a separate account, and saved for the foreign worker until he either stops working for the employer or leaves Israel – whichever comes earlier. For the directions of the Supervisor on Rights of Foreign Workers with regard to pension click here.

    Dismissal compensation – a foreign worker dismissed from his job is entitled to dismissal compensation according to law – one month’s salary for every year of employment. For the full article on termination of a foreign worker’s employment click here.

    Rights and social benefits for foreign workers

    Yearly vacation – According to law, foreign workers are entitled to a two-week vacation every year. The number of vacation days rises with the duration of employment. The worker must notify the employer 14 days in advance. Annual vacations may not be accumulated. If the employer agrees, the worker may take a shorter vacation – at least seven days – and add the remainder to his vacations in the two following years.

    In principle, vacation days may not be exchanged for cash payment, unless the employment has ended. When employment is terminated, and the worker still has unused vacation days to his credit, he is entitled to payment equal to the sum he would have received for his vacation, had he taken it on the day employment was terminated.

    Sick days – The law of sick leave compensation enables foreign workers to be paid by their employers for days when they were absent due to illness. According to law, every worker is entitled to 1.5 sick days per month, up to a maximum of 90 sick days. For the first sick day, the worker will not be paid. for the 2nd and 3rd days he will receive 50% of his regular wage. For every additional day up to the maximum of 90 sick days, he will receive 100%.

    In addition to this basic right, there are laws concerning payment for days of absence due to the illness of the worker’s child, parent or spouse, as well as medical examinations associated with pregnancy. All these laws give the worker the right to be absent from the job, based on specified terms, and these days are deducted from the sick day quota accumulated by the foreign worker.  

    Holiday vacations – Foreign workers are entitled to 9 vacation days on holidays celebrated in their country of origin.  Obviously we cannot list all holidays for every country which foreign workers come from. In general, it is advisable to agree with the foreign worker  – beforehand and in writing – about the holidays entitling him to a vacation.

    Medical insurance – The foreign worker must be insured with special medical insurance for foreign workers throughout his period of employment. Arranging the insurance is the responsibility of the employer  (either the elderly person or a family member), and  not the worker or the employment agency.  Medical insurance for a foreign worker must be made with an insurer who has a valid license, and has to  include the minimum range of services determined in the foreign workers’ decree.  You must confirm that the insurer has a current license from the Insurance Supervisor of the Ministry of Finance, which allows him to provide medical insurance for foreign workers.

    Weekly day off – Foreign workers are entitled to one day off every week, usually Sunday or Saturday. The worker is not obliged to work in the employer’s home on that day, and if he does, he is entitled to extra payment. It is important to agree on the day off beforehand, including exactly what time the worker leaves and comes back.

    Living Conditions – The foreign worker must be provided with satisfactory living conditions – sufficient and suitable food, privacy and a sleeping accommodations.

    For an article on the expense involved in employing a foreign worker click here.

    What do you do when the worker is on vacation?

    Weekly day off – Employers may offer the foreign worker additional payment to stay and work on his weekly day off. This is an undesirable arrangement, and should be chosen only when there is no alternative. Workers should have a chance to take a day off. Experience has shown that they need some time out. Nursing care for an elderly person can be very taxing. One option is giving the worker a day off during the weekend, and arranging for family members to take his place.  Another is employing an Israeli worker on the foreign worker’s day off, either privately, or through the hours provided by Bituach Leumi’s Long-Term Care Benefit. (This should be discussed with the nursing company that provides these hours to the caretaker or to the private agency that brought the foreign worker.)

    Annual vacation – During this vacation the foreign worker may ask to visit his family overseas. The employing family may request a temporary work permit, and temporarily employ another foreign worker – but only one who is already in Israel.

    The private agency where the foreign worker is registered is not required to find a replacement when he is on vacation, and usually cannot promise that another foreign worker will be available at the right time. The agency may be able to find a worker just before the permanent worker leaves for his vacation, if luckily there is one whose employment has just been terminated. 

    Another solution is asking the worker himself to find a replacement. Other options are finding an Israeli worker or moving the elderly person temporarily into a nursing home.

    Families may also ask the social worker for the elderly at the local authority’s Social Services Dept. about the possibility of a respite service (nofshon) for elderly people in need of nursing care.

    What is the employment agency’s responsibility in importing foreign workers?

    The first thing to verify is that the agency has a license to bring foreign workers into Israel according to the conditions set by law.  It is also advisable to check several agencies and see  how careful they are about matching the foreign worker to the person he will be caring for. It is a good idea to ascertain the following:

    – At the first stage, the agency’s social worker should come to the elderly person’s home and professionally evaluate his needs and the existing conditions. This will later help him recommend the right foreign worker. We recommend that you also ask the social worker to assist you in applying for a permit to employ a foreign worker.

    – Ask the agency to let you choose the most suitable foreign worker from an extensive list – based on  place of origin, language, education, profession and family background.

    –  Request the résumés of foreign workers who have already been selected and interviewed in their own countries, and have passed all medical, psychological and integrity tests required for entrance into Israel.

    – Make sure that the company provides the foreign worker with a basic course in Hebrew and Israeli customs, as well as instruction in theoretical background, practical experience, basic Hebrew and Jewish dietary laws.

    – If the worker has already worked in Israel, it is wise to get a recommendation from his former employer.

    – Make sure that in addition to personal care, such as bathing and assistance in the bathroom, and help with physical and occupational therapy treatments, the foreign worker will also take care of the household, from cooking and cleaning to simple repairs.

    – When particularly complex nursing care is needed, a foreign worker who already has experience is a big plus. Take this into consideration when choosing your worker.

    – Make sure that the quality of the worker’s service is monitored throughout the period of his contract with the family. Optimally, the agency’s social worker should  visit the elderly person and his family regularly,  to inspect the quality of care given by the worker.

    The information presented in the English website is partial. For full info please visit our Hebrew website

    (Illustrative image  Unsplash)

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