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Employment Bureau workers offered incentives for denying claimants' unemployment benefits

יולי 20, 2009. Haaretz: Dana Weiler-Polak

An incentive program for Employment Bureau workers entitles them to a bonus of up to 20 percent of their salaries if they manage, inter alia, to withdraw the unemployment benefit eligibility of anyone who has refused a job that was offered to them. The bonus, which amounts to hundreds of shekels per employee, is given to Employment Bureau clerks who meet targets based on successful placement of unemployed persons, obtaining new offers from employers, and registering a given percentage of unemployed persons who refuse to accept a job and therefore become ineligible for unemployment allowances.

Social welfare organizations are critical of the incentive program, saying that it may result in unemployed persons being referred to inappropriate jobs, just so that Employment Bureau employees can retract their allowance and meet the criteria for receiving the bonus.

But Employment Bureau officials do not see a problem with this. "The Employment Bureau is proud of having evolved and earned a prize for efficiency for instituting the bonus program," said the deputy director general for placement at the bureau, Yaakov Zigdon. "The bonus offered at the bureau gives a considerable incentive to make more and better placements."

It should be noted that one of the Employment Bureau's critiques in the past of the implementation of the Wisconsin Plan (in which private entities were given a franchise to operate placement centers for the unemployed) was that the program's employees received a bonus for withdrawing eligibility for unemployment allowances. In wake of the criticism, the procedures were changed and today the workers only receive a bonus for "quality placements," i.e., referring a person to a job where he is employed for at least nine months.

At the Employment Bureau, on the other hand, the employee bonuses program defines "quality placement" as placing the unemployed in jobs where they are employed for just three months. In addition, even if they were employed at a job for just one month, the bureau employee will still receive one third of the credit needed to receive the bonus.

The average bonus until now was 10 percent of the salary of employees in bureaus that earned it, and was given in the past month to around 70 percent of the employment bureaus in Israel. In 2008, the average monthly rate of job refusals was 2,321 people and in the first five months of 2009 there were 2,499 job refusals a month on average. 

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