In an attempt to finish getting the Israeli economy back on its feet following the Covid-19 pandemic, finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman has announced that the Halat benefits for those made unemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic will cease at the end of the current month, and will not be extended as the previous government suggested.
Following the very quick vaccine roll-out and the almost full re-opening of the economy, some businesses have complained that there of staffing shortfalls and have placed the blame on the benefits themselves for workers who have been furloughed.
Lieberman also announced that in addition to the ending of the Halat payments, there will be a one-time grant given to unemployed workers over the age of 45, as well incentives to hire workers on a flexible schedule from fields that have not fully re-opened, such as the tourism industry.
Lieberman also announced that it was decided to take some additional steps in order to continue to encourage the economic growth that the country has been enjoying since the end of the third lockdown this past winter.
1: Unemployed people over the age of 45 will be able to continue to get their Halat benefits until the end of the year.
2: The Ministry will continue to pay double stipends to the weaker segments of society who qualify for them. The cutting of the stipend payments will be frozen until after 2021.
3: The rule regarding siphoning off 30 percent of the unemployment payment to those learning a marketable skill, will be nullified, in an effort to encourage unemployed people to gain skills and be able to reenter the workforce.
4: The regulations regarding who can qualify for unemployment, will return to those that existed in the pre-corona era.
5: Maternity payments will still be given to salaried women who are on extended unemployment prior to their delivery until the end of 2021.
6: Employees who are making low salaries due to being furloughed and have the ability to collect a grant of four months worth of salary, for industries that were closed due to Covid-19 such as the tourism industry, will be able to do so retroactively only as far as April 30th, 2021. Thus, this grant is only available until October. This is in an effort to allow these industries to appropriately disperse the funds in the grants as needed to compensate for the lower level of income across the industry.
7: The Finance Ministry and the Education Ministry have worked together to allow tour guides to teach together with regular teachers in a new program called “Kindergartens and schools learning through the summer” and to use their skills to teach students about Israel in an effort to bring them additional income.
Finance Minister Lieberman said: “The economy has been almost completely open for nearly four months now. The unemployment rate is down to below 7.5%. This is the rate that the previous government established as the point at which they would cut off the benefits for Halat. There are currently 130,000 vacant job opportunities in the Israeli economy. Therefore, it is clear that the Halat policies are no longer correct for our current economy. Having said that, there is a small number of industries that are limited in their ability to open, and a high number of unemployed people at older ages, as well as weaker segments of society, or women during pregnancy who can’t find a job due to their status. It is important to make sure that we do not leave them behind. We have therefore pinpointed solutions for these groups of people in order to support them, while we encourage the rest of society to fully return to work. We will continue to run our ministry in a fully responsible manner, and answer the needs of the citizens and for the economy itself.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)