Questions and Answers Regarding Hiring Foreign Workers in Israel
When hiring Foreign Workers in Israel, the Israeli employer must apply for a work permit, while the employee must apply for a work visa. Violators of the law may be subject to fines and/or criminal indictments.
Our law office specializes in Israeli immigration and employment law, helping Israeli and foreign companies obtain all the necessary legal certificates to bring foreign experts to the Holy Land. This article provides answers to specific questions a foreign worker or employer may have regarding the process of obtaining a work visa/permit, the consequences of violating the law, specific regulations, the field in which foreign citizens may seek employment, and much more.
Before we go into detail, we should note that the Foreign Workers Law lays out specific rules and regulations for foreign workers employed in Israel. The Foreign Workers Rights Handbook details the rights of foreign employees and the extent according to which they differ or concur with the rights of Israeli workers.
- An interested employee came to my work with a photocopied work permit. Is this acceptable proof for me to employ him legally?
In order to employ a foreign worker, original documentation is required. Also, further background checks must be done on the document and person, to ensure the potential employment is legal.
- How is hiring foreign workers in Israel processed?
A foreign worker may receive an employment permit from the “service administration to employers and foreign workers department” of the Population and Immigration Authority. This permit must be presented before the worker is hired, and only employers in the fields of construction, agriculture, industry, experts, nursing, and ethnic restaurant industries can employ foreign employees. The government creates specific regulations and quotas for each field respectively.
- Can I employ workers from Eritrea and Sudan, to my restaurant, in accordance with Israeli Law?
Types of licenses and enforcements on policies are different depending on the situation.
- My neighbor hired a dedicated employee from Thailand, who has been in Israel for many years now. Am I able to employ him for my business as well?
No. Each circumstance is different, and every employer must obtain their own permit to employ foreign workers. There are many factors that go into this, and the fact that this worker has been in Israel for many years does not prove that he is planning on becoming a citizen. Further, the work visa of the employee must be checked, in order to ensure that it is covered for your field of work, etc. Not following these guidelines is a violation of the law.
- My uncle hired a legal foreign worker with a visa. Recently, he has asked to replace this worker with another. Am I able to employ his original worker, who no longer works for him?
Only if all the appropriate laws and procedures are followed. If you need care for most of the day, one may apply for a permit to hire a foreign worker in nursing. This must be done by checking if the caregiver can still obtain a work visa under the law, through a private licensed real estate agency for foreign workers in nursing. If all of these steps are not followed, it is against the law.
Housecare and Cleaning
- In what situations can a foreign worker be employed to clean my home?
It is generally illegal to hire a foreign worker to complete household chores. In addition, it is forbidden to use a caretaker nurse to perform other jobs that benefit the rest of the family. Further, an employee holding a work permit in this field is still not able to obtain a job in a different field using the same visa. They must have a valid work visa with the name of the permit holder listed on it.
- My neighbor has a foreign caregiver who has off on Sundays. Am I allowed to hire her on Sundays for housework?
No. If you do not individually hold a permit to hire a foreign worker, it is not legally permitted to do this. The employee only has a visa to work in their specific field and for a specific person, so it is not legal for them to work in a different field, and for someone who does not hold the foreign workers permit. This could lead to a large fine or even an indictment.
- Is it allowed to hire a foreign worker in the renovation industry?
Generally, it is illegal to hire a foreign employee in the field of house renovations. This may only be done through a registered contractor, who legally employs foreign workers through a manpower contractor, licensed by the state. The client of the contractor is legally obligated to check whether the employment of a foreign worker is legal through the state’s guidelines or not. If, in any situation, the client of the contractor discovers illegal employment of a foreign worker and does not put a stop to it, he/she will also be held liable in the situation.
- I want to do home renovations. May I employ the Chinese laborers who work for the contractor in the building closeby?
No. If you do not individually hold a permit to employ foreign workers, this would be against the law. Further, the employee received a work visa that requires him to work for registered contractors in the building through licensed manpower contractors only. Doing otherwise is a violation of the law for both parties involved.
- I am the chairman of the house committee in the neighborhood, and we would like to conduct a series of renovations. Am I allowed to hire one of the foreign workers standing at the intersection, waiting for the employer?
No. These permits are given to construction corporations and licensed contractors only, and only through the condition that they hire foreign workers through a licensed manpower contractor.
- In what circumstance may I hire a foreign worker to care for my children?
In general, it is forbidden. A rare circumstance in which it is allowed is if a special permit is granted for the worker in the nursing industry, and only for a child who is entitled to a disabled child benefit from the National Insurance Institute and under one of the following conditions.
- Presence of the child in an educational setting is conditional on the accompaniment of the therapist for the purpose of providing physical assistance to the child.
- The child needs constant accompaniment or supervision for most of the day due to his disability and the same child is unable to participate in an educational / therapeutic setting.
- Other special medical circumstances that require daily, close, and prolonged cre of the child during the hours at home.
For all cases, the foreign worker must still be employed through a private bureau (manpower company) that has been licensed by the state.
- Our grandmother recently passed away and we would like to hire her caregiver for our children. Is this possible?
It is not possible to arrange a work visa for a foreign worker to take care of children or any other house work that is not listed on the original visa. Hiring a foreign employee for a child who has not received a special permit to employ a foreign worker to give care, is against the law.
Working in a country under a Tourist Visa
- A friend of my daughter came to visit Israel and now would like to stay and work in the country. Can she begin working under her current visa?
No, a tourist visa does not cover any form of work in the state of Israel. This individual must return to their home country and begin the process of applying for a work visa.
Marriage work Visas
- Is it legal to hire a foreign worker if they are married to an Israeli?
It depends on the visa that the spouse already holds. After a foreign citizen marries an Israeli, a gradual process of obtaining citizenship status begins. The current visa of the individual must be checked, and depending on the conditions of the visa, it could be allowed to hire the worker. It’s important to remember that hiring a foreign worker without a permit is against the law in all circumstances.
Fines and Enforcement
- Are Population Authority inspectors allowed to enter my home/business or do they need a court ordered search warrant to do so?
The law allows the inspector to enter a private entity (home/workplace), if they have reasonable suspicion that illegal actions are occurring.
- Do I have to allow PA inspectors into my home?
Yes, it is required by the courts and anyone who interferes with the performance of the authority is liable to 6 months imprisonment.
What is the penalty for employing a foreign worker?
It differs from case to case. The punishment may include an administrative fine or filing a criminal indictment.
Important Note: Pursuant to the Temporary Provision of December 2014 in the Foreign Workers Law increased fines for employing foreign infiltrators whose type 2 (a) 5 license has expired or for whom a stay order has been employed.
- What happens if I am arrested several times for illegally employing a foreign worker?
Committing a repeat offense may result in the imposition of a double administration fine for filing of an indictment.
- Does the fine accrue interest?
An unpaid fine will acquire an additional 50% interest after the payment deadline has passed. After 180 days, the fine will accumulate an additional 5% interest and continue this pattern every 180 days.
- What is the meaning of criminal indictment?
In this scenario, the state is the plaintiff and the employer is the defendant. Usual criminal court procedures are followed: evidence is shown for both sides and the court decides the issue of guilt. If the defendant is convicted, the court can impose a series of fines up to tens of thousands of shekels. If proven guilty, it may also affect the defendant’s engagements with the state.
- For a criminal indictment, which court would I go to: Magistrates Court, District Court, or Labor Court?
Indictments are filed in regional labor courts.
- Do I have the right to appeal a fine for illegal hiring of a foreign worker?
A person found guilty of this offense has the right to file an appeal in accordance with the deadlines set by the law. The appeal will be filed to the National Labor Court.
- My foreign employee, from Africa, demands that I not set aside his salary for the deposit of the fund of the Immigration Authority. Is this legal?
The Foreign Workers law of 1991 requires employers of foreign workers to deposit a set portion of their salary on their behalf. Employers who do not act accordingly are committing a criminal offense and may be exposed to penalties.
- I employ a number of asylum seekers, but I have not been able to set aside the deposit for some of them. May I continue to employ them and deposit it in another way?
Any deviation from the exact rule is considered a violation of the law. The law states that the deposit must be deposited through a website of the Population and Immigration Authority only. If a problem is faced, the employer must contact the deposit unit and his continued employment is prohibited as long as the deposit can not be deposited on the Authority’s website.
Important note: For foreign workers who are not asylum seekers but do not hold a valid residence permit, a deposit to the fund will not be allowed on the website, and their employment is forbidden.
If you have any work visa or permit related Questions, please reach out to our office. Advocate Joshua Pex specializes in immigration law in Israel and would be happy to discuss any related, legal issues with you.