Everything you need to know about working in Israel when it's the holiday season!

By Uwork | May 1, 2020
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Israel is blessed with many holidays, which may be a little bit confusing when it comes to your working routine – are you supposed to work regularly on a national holiday? Work from home? Do you get paid fully when you work only half a day? We'e here for you, Olim Chadashim and foreign language speakers of English, German, French, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and other languages – to make everything clear. 

Holidays Season 

Usually, most of the (Jewish) holidays will be celebrated on the months of September – October (AKA the month of Tishri), those are Rosh Hashana (the new Jewish year), Yom Kippur (fasting day), Sukkot and Simchat Torah. There are other holidays during the year that are recognized by the law – like Pessach (Passover), Yom Haatzamut (Independence Day) and Shavuot. Overall – there are 9 holiday days that are recognized by the law. 

The non-Jewish holidays are also recognized by the state, and whoever celebrates a non-Jewish holiday is entitled to do so and not work on the holiday of their belief. (The recognized days will still be 9 days).

To the Jewish employees, the days are divided in this particular order: 2 days for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur (1 day), 2 days for Sukkot, 2 days for Passover, 1 days for Independence Day and one day for Shavuot. 

For Muslim Employee – Muhram (the Muslim new year), the prophet's birthday, El Fitar and El Adcha. 

For Christian employees – 2 days for Christmas, New years eve, post-Easter Friday, Easter's second day, Shavuot's second day, Revelation day and Feast of the Ascension (1 day).

For Druze employees – Holiday of El Adcha, The holiday of prophet Sohaib.

What about working on holiday's eve?

By the second clause of the law of working hours and resting days, on a holiday's eve, the employee shall not work more than 7 hours. If the employee is to work more than 7 hours on the holiday's eve – s/he shall be paid extra hours.

Will I be paid for the actual holiday, even if I'm not working?

An employee with a seniority of over 3 months in the company that has worked a day before and a day after the holiday (with the exception of an absence with a consent from the management)  will be entitled for a full payment for the holiday day. 

Employees will not be entitled for a payment if the holiday is held on Saturday (Shabbat).

A new employee (working in the company for less than 3 months), that is being paid a monthly salary, will not be entitled for a separate payment for the holiday days.

As of late, it has been ruled that an employee that is being paid by commissions will not be entitled for payment on the actual holiday days.

What if I choose to work during the holiday?

Generally, an employee must be paid 150% of his regular salary, if s/he work on the holiday days. If the employee is a regular employee (the salary is paid on a monthly basis), the employer is allowed to provide the employee with an hour and a half of rest for every working hour s/he worked on the holiday.

What if I worked during the holiday, but not from choice? (I was asked to work)

The employees will be entitled for a regular working-day salary + 150% of their regular wage – overall the salary will be of 250%. The detailed reward will be paid for working during the holiday, by choice or not by choice, not including extra hours that will be added to the 250%, in case the employee has worked extra hours during the holiday.

What about working during Chol Ha'moed (חול המועד)?

Basically, Chol Ha'moed are considered regular working days and the law doesn't address the number of working hours on a Chol Ha'moed day.

Therefore, if the employee leaves for vacation during Chol Ha'moed of Passover (Pessach), the employee is entitled to deduct the days from the vacation days the employee has to his right.

The actual holiday days (unlike the days of Chol Ha'moed) will not be deducted off the employee's vacation days.

In case the company holds a different rule regarding holidays, the rule/law that benefits the employee better will apply. 

Collective vacation during the holidays:

Some workplaces grew custom to allow a collective vacation days during the holiday season, on the expense of the annual vacation. There's no legal prevention to allow the entire company to go on a collective vacation and that is only in case the vacation is for a week's time and a notification to the employees should be delivered at least 2 weeks in advance.

Days of choice:

In the amendment to the law of annual vacation (may 2010), a possibility was given to the employees – possibility of using the annual vacation days in one of the days of choice that are detailed in the law. Regarding the Jewish holidays that are held on Tishri (usually Sep-Oct) that are considered days of choice – the evening of Rosh Hashana (before the actual day of the holiday), Gadleia's day of fasting, Yom Kippur's evening, Sukkot's evening and Hosiana Rabba.

Employee that chose to use one of his days of choice, must notify his employer 30 days in advance to the actual day, and the employee can't, by the definition of the law, decline the request. However, if it's not customary to work on a day of choice in your particular company, the employee will not be considered as if s/he used one of their days of choice.