Israel - Women domestic workers bound to employers (2012)

60% of migrant workers coming to Israel are male and 40% are female, comprising over 80% of workers in the care-giving sector. These workers are sometimes vulnerable to situations of debt bondage. In April 2011, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that migrant mothers should be permitted to remain in Israel up to three months after the birth of their child and that previous legislation stating that migrant workers will lose their permits should they become pregnant or give birth and thus must leave the country, infringed on the foreign worker’s constitutional right to parenthood. Several new amendments to the “Entrance to Israel” law were passed in 2011 concerning migrant workers that are caregivers to patients. The law allows the relevant minister to extend the worker’s work permit (which is usually time-limited) for “humanitarian reasons”. The minister must appoint a committee that will advise him on this matter and the chairman of the committee should be a retired judge.

Another amendment limits the number of times a migrant worker can switch employers. An additional amendment permits the relevant minister to restrict, after considering the worker’s rights, the geographical area in Israel in which the worker will be allowed to work.

If a foreign worker is not employed in the care giving sector for 90 days, that worker can be deported. However, the worker is entitled to a hearing before the decision is accepted.

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that an earlier arrangement that forbade switching employers should be repealed as it constitutes “a modern form of slavery.” This ruling was accepted and new amendments mentioned above that coincide with the spirit of the Supreme Court’s ruling were legislated.

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