Israelis to get Sundays off - but not every week

Sundays likely to be added as part of Israeli weekend, but only several weeks a year.

David Rosenberg,

Illustration
Illustration
Thinkstock

After years of proposals and contentious debates between lawmakers and industry leaders, Israel appears poised to include Sunday as a recognized part of the weekend, obliging employers to give workers the day off or pay them added compensation.

While most Israelis work what amounts to a five-and-a-half day work week, from Sunday through Thursday and typically part of Friday before the beginning of Shabbat, lawmakers have weighed plans to cut the workweek down by a day, making Sunday part of an extended weekend.

Various proposals of this sort have received some backing from religious MKs, who see Sunday vacations as a way to provide an alternative to Shabbat-day shopping and recreation, thus reducing Shabbat desecration.

Other lawmakers have cited the extended weekend as a quality-of-life issue, while still others suggested it could enable greater consumption by Israelis enjoying increased leisure time, thus boosting aggregate demand in the economy.

The latest attempt at extending the weekend, proposed by MKs Eli Cohen (Kulanu) and David Amsalem (Likud), attempted to balance the perceived benefits of an extra day off with the reduced productivity caused by the shortened workweek.

The Cohen-Amsalem “Extended Weekend” bill, first drawn up in May, 2016, would have designated one Sunday per month as a recognized day off from work.

But concerns over the loss of 12 workdays per year led to the proposal being modified to just 6 Sundays a year.

Now, however, a committee appointed by the Prime Minister to evaluate the proposal’s feasibility has reportedly suggested adoption of the bill – but with yet another reduction in the number of extended weekends, recommending just four be given per year.

If the committee’s recommendations are in fact adopted by the government as generally expected, the coalition is likely to approve the bill at Sunday’s meeting of the Committee of Ministers on Legislation. The bill would then have full coalition backing in the full Knesset votes.


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