Friday, 16 May 2014

Employment Warnings in Israel

Israel is an amazing place and the land that Jews belong in. There is so much here that is wonderful, but there are areas that require major improvement. 

One of the largest areas of difficulty is that of honest work. As an experienced occupational therapist, I naively thought that a good degree would guarantee that I would have work in Israel and therefore some difficulties one might anticipate in moving countries would be eliminated. It seemed logical, by attending continuing education courses, getting to know staff in the university and place of work or becoming a member of the Israel Occupational Therapy Association, I was sure I would meet those I needed to and have at least one area of my life that should be easy to transition into.

Rule number 1 when moving to Israel: Do NOT ever presume anything. Nothing in Israel works in a logical manner. Expect the unexpected and plan for the problems, as sadly, they will arise.

I am currently relieving a therapist on Maternity Leave and here have come across a few rules when working in any Israeli facility. It really does not matter if it is a government facility or religious school or other facility. The rule of thumb is the place of work will do everything they can to avoid paying you, to delay paying on time and to make life a nightmare as far as technicalities, pay etc. Many therapists have experienced having to wait the full 3 months of covering a therapist on maternity leave and had a fight at the end to get their pay.

The difficulties you will come up against are many and each time something new. So here are a few pointers to help you through this.

1) When starting to work in any facility, get all the details in writing.

2) If you go into a facility for hand-over and are paid for the time, write it down in your diary and have the secretary or head OT sign the times you go in and when you leave.

3) Have all your documents organised and have them sign to say all paperwork is complete.

4) Make sure to get a work contract. Do not accept any work opportunity without a work contract and make sure you agree with what you are signing on.

5) More and more schools are instituting a clock in system that is finger activated and you have a code or number as a worker. This is supposed to be a reliable system. However, somehow on the other end details can and do get doctored and you need written proof to back you up. There are also times the electricity will be down and you can not clock in as the clock is not functioning. Do NOT rely on it EVER! Keep a written record of the dates and times you clock in and when you leave and have someone sign this. Either the secretary or the head OT. Keep everything in writing.

6) Make sure your treatment notes are correctly dated and up to date. These can prove you actually worked on a given day. After all, if you were present and completed treatment notes, it can not be you were not at work.

7) Know that by the law of the land, salary must be paid by the 9th of the following month and no later. Many try to make it the 10th, most stretch that to the 15th and then suddenly later and later. By law every day you are not paid the facility can be fined for late pay. Some schools are starting to split the month with e.g. 1-24 April paid on May 10 and 25 - 30 April added to May 1-24 and paid on 10th June. This system is illegal. The full month of April should be paid at end of April. Israeli law gives a window period until 9th May to pay, but this is a window period it does not mean they can regularly pay on or after 10th May.

8) Make sure you have savings to keep you going while you battle to get paid.

9) Most Israelis will not tell you how they manage while awaiting payment. I have managed to ascertain that they will receive help from relatives, Gemachim or savings. This is not the norm and no therapist should ever have to turn to ways to cover their expenses while waiting to be paid. The normal way of the world is that you go to work, put in an honest day's work, complete time sheets and get paid on time. If you wanted to live on loans, gifts, savings etc, you would not be seeking salaried employment. This is not normal and something needs to change. How? The only way I can think of is to get the word out and hope that enough people will begin to think as educated people and stand up for their workers rights.

10) If your salary is not paid on time, have a lawyer write a letter or take action to ensure the facility is fined for each day of late pay. The more O.T.s stand up for their rights to be treated and paid as the professionals they are, the sooner the system can begin to change.

If you do not have savings or friends or family to help you or the people to sign as guarantors for Gemach loans which would be interest free, taking a loan at the bank is not so simple. The bank manager wants to know details before you take a loan and refuses to give a loan while you wait to be paid.

So if you have no back up plan and you are an occupational therapist, if you still wish to work in OT in Israel, join our Private Practitioners group and learn how to develop a private practice. Working privately is sometimes the only way to go.

There is another area that requires tips in working in facilities in Israel and that is keeping your therapy records confidential. We'll cover this in another post.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.



Related Posts with Thumbnails