Terminally ill workers in Israel – what are the workplace rights of someone debilitated by cancer or another fatal disease? Can this employee be dismissed? If a chronic or terminal disease affects an employee’s performance, is the employer allowed to fire them? The law firm of Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh specializes in Israeli labor law. In the past, we’ve explained the law relating to sick days. We also mentioned that if an employee resigns due to their own illness or the illness of a family member, they are entitled to severance pay. In this article, attorney Michael Decker will explain the rights of chronically or terminally ill employees. Specifically, the article deals with the rights of the ill employee and their employer in the Israeli work market.

Which laws protect terminally ill workers in Israel?

Cancer and work rights in IsraelThe main law relevant to this subject is the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Act, 1998. This law applies only to businesses that employ more than 25 workers. Small companies and family businesses are exempt from the provisions of the law, since in this case the possible harm to the business and its profit is more serious than the violation of the sick employee’s rights. As a result, small businesses are not required to adjust the positions demands based on the employee’s health limitations. Regardless, Israeli law states that ill employees cannot be fired while using their sick days.

The Equality Law states that the employer cannot fire a worker specifically due to being sick. If terminally ill workers in Israel are fired and apply to the Labor Court, the burden of proof that the employee was not dismissed due to their illness will be borne by the employer.

What are the employer’s obligations towards a seriously ill employee?

The employer is required to adjust the professional demands and job description of a seriously ill employee to account for employee’s limitations due to the illness. Provided, of course, if it is practically feasible to do so. The requirements for adapting the position to persons with illness or disabilities were determined in Israeli case law and legislation.

Labor Law Ruling regarding Terminally ill workers in Israel

In the case of Labor Law Court (Nazareth) case 1732/04, De-Castro Dekel Yitzchak v. Zorea Quality Control Department, it was determined that the employer did not prove that he had really tried to find an alternate role for employee who had developed cancer, that would suit the circumstances of his illness and according to the employee’s workplace limitations.

In the De Castro ruling, the judge determined that the employer must reinstate the employee to his position. Furthermore, the employer had to pay the worker for all the months in which he did not work in the position the doctor found him suitable for. In addition, the employer was required to provide a statutory and deterrent compensation, without proof of damage, in the amount of NIS 50,000. The ruling was based on the provisions of the Equality Law.

A severely ill employee and sick days – legal situation

An employer cannot dismiss an employee while they are on sick leave. This also applies to employers to whom the Equal Employment Opportunities Law does not apply. This applies to any disease, whether “mild” or severe.

According to the Sick Pay Law, 1967, every worker accumulates 1.5 sick days for each month of work. An employee can accumulate a maximum period of 90 sick days. The employer must remunerate an employee who did not use said sick days.

Dismissal after absence due to illness

In Mediated Labor Dispute 16442-12-12, Oren Di Vlensa v. Visonic Ltd. the employee was provided compensation in the amount of 10 monthly salaries. The reason? It was proven that the cause for the dismissal was the prolonged absence of the employee due to his illness. The Honorable Judge ruled that “it is true that the employee has used up the sick days to which he was entitled, and under these circumstances he may be legally dismissed. However, when an employer exercises their right to fire an employee, they must do so in good faith and due to relevant considerations. Firing an employee in bad faith and due to improper motives will be considered an unlawful dismissal. “

This ruling is a concrete example of precedents set in the past. Firing during a period of illness must be due to considerations relating to the functioning of the employee at their place of work, and not due to absence due to illness. In addition, as mentioned above, it should be borne in mind that large businesses must find an appropriate employment for a sick worker. If the Israeli Labor law Court finds that the employee was dismissed due to their illness, even if the employer claims otherwise, the employee will be entitled to compensation.

Resignation due to illness that is regarded as a dismissal

As stated above, a sick worker is entitled to resign from their place of work and receive full severance pay. In order to receive severance pay, the employee must prove that their working conditions were worsened as a result of their illness, in accordance with Section 6 of the Severance Pay Law, 1963.

Contact our Israeli labor law experts – Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh

If your rights in the workplace have been affected by illness, or you have been dismissed without compensation, we will be happy to help. The law firm of Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh, specializes in Israeli labor law. Call to arrange an appointment at the Jerusalem law office or in Petah Tikva. We’ll provide legal aid and council to terminally ill workers in Israel and hep protect their rights.

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