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Nursing workers in Israel – an essential overview

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

This article will provide an overview of nursing workers in Israel and their employment conditions. The nursing sector is made up predominantly of foreign workers, who come to Israel for a limited time period to care for our loved ones. This raises complex legal issues which, unfortunately, many only discover when they are faced with potentially harsh consequences of not complying with the law.

Our law offices specialize in nursing workers and arranging their legal status. We provide our clients with solutions and assistance throughout the process of; hiring workers in Israel, obtaining and extending work and residency permits, transferring workers between patients.. We also provide legal counseling and assistance for both nursing workers and their employers.

Israel is counted among the most developed countries in the world, and the average Israeli life expectancy is steadily increasing. This trend, though welcome, demands adjustments in our lives and the lives of those close to us. The social and economic changes that Israel has undergone in recent decades have brought about a situation in which close family members often cannot care for their elderly relatives, and are forced to hire caretakers to do so. This is also the case if a family member suffers from a disability and needs round-the-clock care. Before you apply to employ a caretaker, reviewing this overview of nursing workers right and obligations in Israel will be helpful.

Why is employing nursing workers so complicated?

Overview of nursing workers in IsraelThe nursing sector is primarily comprised of foreign workers (of which a decisive majority are female). These workers mostly come from countries in the Far East – such as India, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka – or from countries in Eastern Europe. There is a large and constantly growing demand for foreign caretakers in Israel. However, the supply of workers in this sector does not presently meet the demand. The State of Israel even sets annual quotas for the numbers of foreign caretakers allowed to work in Israel, thus limiting the quantity of available workers even further.

Hiring a foreign caretaker requires working with a number of different bodies and authorities in Israel; thus creating a complex process which confronts potential employers with a significant amount of bureaucratic red tape.

The requirement for employment permits

The Entry to Israel Act regulates the employment of foreign caretakers. There are several dozen private agencies in Israel, licensed by the Population and Immigration Authority, who are responsible for bringing foreign workers to Israel and serving as middlemen helping employers find the right foreign worker. Before turning to these agencies to register and/or receive assistance in finding a caretaker, it is mandatory to obtain a permit.

The permit, providing the patient with the right to hire a nurse, is granted by the Population and Immigration Authority. At the conclusion of the process, once a suitable worker is found and registered, a work permit must be obtained. Employing foreign caretakers without the proper permits is a crime and can lead to fines and even imprisonment.

The role of the National Insurance Institute

The employment permit for foreign caretakers is granted on the basis of eligibility tests, conducted by the National Insurance Institute. In most cases, those seeking to employ a regular caretaker must first file a claim with the National Insurance Institute for a stipend/old age pension. Our article one the subject provides in-depth information on employment permits and eligibility tests for employing caretakers.

The employer is the patient him/herself

Although not always widely known, patients who require nursing care are generally defined by Israeli law as the direct employers of their foreign caretakers. For all intents and purposes, they are obligated just as any other employer (on their own or with others’ assistance) to obtain an employment permit for the foreign worker, draw up an employment contract, and supply the worker’s needs, including insurance, suitable living quarters, etc. This is in addition to the “normal” obligations of employers under Israeli labor law; such as providing vacations, paying minimum wage and overtime, and paying into a pension fund. As the direct employer of a foreign worker, a patient can be sued for not meeting his or her legal obligations, and in fact foreign workers have been known to sue their employers. To explore this issue in more depth, see an additional article in this series.

Contact an attorney specializing in foreign caretakers

If you want to clarify whether you or your family are entitled to hire a foreign caretaker, or if you need advice and legal assistance on any issue regarding employment of foreign workers, we will be happy to help. Contact our law offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, to obtain legal advice and assistance. We specialize in foreign caretakers and arranging their legal status.


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