Gov’t Likely to Support ‘Long Weekend Off’ Bill

A general view of the Israeli parliament building in Jerusalem the Knesset.Wednesday July 20, 2015,. Photo by nati shohat/FLASH90
A general view of the Knesset building in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Sunday is a regular work day in Israel, but that could change – at least for 8 Sundays a year. The government is inclined to partially support a bill that would provide a day off on Sunday once a month – except it would be for only 8 months of the year, specifically the months that do not have other non-Shabbos days off (such as the secular months in which Pesach and Sukkos occur).

MK Eli Cohen (Kulanu) set the ball rolling before the Pesach break when he introduced legislation that would give all Israelis a paid day off on the first Sunday of every month. Cohen is set to meet with several government officials Monday to discuss the bill. According to sources in the Prime Minister’s Office, the government would be willing to support the bill if the number of days off was cut down to eight.

Cohen is not the first official to think of this idea; former National Economic Council head Eugene Kandell suggested between 4 and 8 “long weekends” stretching from Friday to Sunday each year. Even if the move would cost the economy NIS 1.2 billion in products and productivity costs, it would stimulate the leisure economy. Jewish Home MK Shuli Moallem also suggested such a law in the past, and both Jewish Home and Kulanu support the bill.

Opposing the idea are the heads of the Industrialists Association, who said that that the move would hurt productivity. According to Cohen, however, Iscar, one of the biggest companies in Israel, has already instituted monthly long weekends for workers, and productivity has not suffered.

In the end, Israelis will work or go to school as much as they do now – with days off rearranged to accommodate the new system, said Cohen. The bill is expected to pass its first reading as is, and then go to committee for adjustments.