On July 8th at 12:30 PM, the Knesset held a conference titled “Exploitation by Hour” about the abuse of hourly workers’ rights.

According to estimates, there are over one million workers in Israel paid by hour, in a way that disregards their rights and discriminates against them compared to workers receiving monthly salaries.

The conference, initiated by members of Knesset Michal Biran (Labor) and Eliza Levi (Yesh Atid), in partnership with the Forum for Enforcement of Workers’ Rights, was held in the half of the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality in the Knesset.

A position paper that summarizes the phenomenon of hourly workers in the Israeli market and abuse of their rights was presented, and participants included representatives of the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Justice, employers, workers’ rights organizations and hourly workers who told personal stories from their experience.

For many workers in Israel, the salary they receive is not based on a set monthly salary, rather on an hourly basis. The format of hourly employment causes many difficulties and obstacles in the way of some of the basic rights of workers. For employers, employing workers by the hour is a way to decrease the costs of employing workers and give workers a lower sum than the minimum required by law. For workers, this means continuous damaging of their rights and is one of the main mechanisms responsible for the phenomenon of the working poor.

In most cases, hourly workers are paid much less than their counterparts with monthly salaries. Most of the time, they don’t know what they will exactly receive until the day they get their pay slip, they are not paid for holidays, and their rights are also abused in regards to annual vacation, prior notice before dismissal, and pregnancy leave. A conservative estimate is that at least 45% of all workers in the Israeli market – more than a million workers – are paid by the hour.

According to Kav LaOved lawyer Michal Tadjer, who is a member of the Forum for Enforcement of Workers’ Rights, “In the past decade, employment of workers by the hour has become a common format in the Israeli labor market. For employers, this essentially means laws that enable them to employ workers in fixed positions, but pay them less than the monthly salary paid to other employees. Much of the problem stems from the Israeli labor laws, which do not prevent injury to employees in this format. Therefore, we must act urgently to make a meaningful change to current labor laws: raise the minimum wage per hour, determine compensation for holidays, equalize the amount of time before termination of work that workers and employers must announce their intent, and protect pregnant women. This way, abuse of workers will shrink, and the incentive for hourly employment will decrease.”

A summary of the position paper (in Hebrew)