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New law to make long-time temps permanent staff on Tuesday

January 1, 2008. Haaretz: Ruth Sinai

After an eight-year delay and affecting as many as 100,000 workers, legislation requiring employers put workers provided by temporary employment agencies on the company payroll after nine months service is expected to go into effect today, barring any last-minute changes.

"This is one of the most important social reforms in Israel and it will alter the labor market across the board, transforming a whole community of workers who felt like they were inferior to a part of the working Israeli society," said MK Amir Peretz (Labor), who initiated the legislation.

However, some employers are expected to refuse to hire temporary workers, possibly leading to lay offs. Another option is that employers will turn to service providers, who are not included in the legislation.

Service providers - for example security firms - are not considered to be human resources firms. This enables them to bypass the legislation requiring them to pay temporary workers the same salaries as permanent employees, and also not offer the same benefit packages. Similarly, they are not required to hire temporary employees after nine months of employment.

The Finance Ministry tried to delay the implementation of the legislation until 2011, as it had done since it was passed in 2000 through the Economic Arrangements Law.

However, the head of the Histadrut labor federation, Ofer Eini, prevented the delay, and the law will go into effect Tuesday unless a different agreement is reached between the Histadrut, the employers and the government.

Eini initiated a series of proposals that are meant to improve the lot of workers employed by service providers, demanding that such firms undertake similar registration as that required of temporary employment agencies.

According to Eini's proposals, every service provider, be it a security firm, a cleaning service or a care giver for the elderly, must acquire a license, and its renewal will be conditional on its financial stability and adherence to employment rules.

This, it is hoped, will drive contractors who systematically violate workers rights out of business.

In exchange, Eini was willing to delay the implementation of the legislation by 18 months, a proposal that was severly criticized by organizations like Kav LaOved, a workers rights organization.

An agreement was reached between Eini and Manufacturers Association head Shraga Brosh, but the Treasury foiled the agreement saying that the existing legislation was preferable to the changes proposed by the Histadrut boss.

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