Bill protecting the Shabbat postponed

Ministerial Committee defers discussion over bill banning employers from demanding Shabbat desecration from observant workers.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

MK Mickey Zohar
MK Mickey Zohar
Knesset spokesperson

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided to postpone the debate on the bill proposed by MK Miki Zohar (Likud) and MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), which prohibits forcing Israelis to work on Shabbat.

The delay was approved in coordination with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is the acting Minister of Economy, to allow MK Zohar to reach agreement in the coalition.

The proposed bill will allow employees to legally refuse to work on the Jewish day of rest, including those who do not strictly observe Shabbat, without risking dismissal or affecting their chances of being hired.

The “Hours of Work and Rest” bill stipulates that the weekly day of rest is determined according to religion.

Under current law, an employee who refuses to work on the day of rest according to the religion he or she observes may do so to uphold religious requirements. However, an employer may request of the employee to submit an affidavit that confirms religious convictions and observances. If the employee is Jewish, the employer may demand of the employee to sign a declaration that he or she keeps kosher at home and does not travel on Shabbat.

The new bill seeks to abolish these requirements, and allows for employees to refuse to work on their weekly day of rest, which would allow Jews to refuse to work on the Shabbat even if they do not strictly observe Shabbat, but feel that working on Shabbat goes against their beliefs.

"I intend to use all my strength to find a way to reach agreement with the government offices and Ministerial Committee. This is an historic amendment that would allow any citizen of our Jewish and democratic country to rest on Israel’s official day of rest which is the Shabbat. The current situation whereby workers do not declare themselves as religious are obligated to work on Shabbat is absurd and we must fix it,” said MK Zohar.

"This bill is another important step to fix the value of a weekly rest day. This bill can be an important message for those who enjoy shopping on Shabbat but who sometimes forget that behind every shoe or shirt they buy, there is an employee or a worker who had to work on Shabbat for fear of being dismissed. I believe this bill will put end to modern slavery and allow all workers everywhere a weekly day of rest."