Long Weekend Proposal on Way to Knesset

YERUSHALAYIM -

The long talked-about long weekend in Israel came a step closer on Thursday as the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a proposal by MK Eli Cohen (Kulanu), The Marker reported.

The bill will be forwarded to the Knesset for a preliminary reading on Wednesday, and with the support of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, passage was thought likely.

The proposal calls for a long weekend — Shabbos and Sunday — six times a year, to be implemented later this year. It’s part of a broader aim to reduce the average work-week for Israelis, and bring it more into line with OECD standards.

Currently, the European work week stands at 40 hours, the U.S. and Germany at 38-40, while the Israel work week is 43 hours. The plan would eliminate 8.5 work hours for every two-month period, resulting in one less hour at work per week over the course of a year.

The shorter work week in Israel is not guaranteed, however. Shraga Brosh, head of the Manufacturers Association, noted that the cost of such a measure would be about eight billion shekels, and would be borne by the industrial sector.

“The consequence,” warned Mr. Brosh, would be “higher prices” and industrial slowdown. Therefore, he said, it was agreed that the law would not be finalized without first consulting the industrial sector.

A survey conducted among 200 companies across the Israeli economy found that the main response would be to raise the prices of their products and services if the long weekend arrives. About 30 percent of the companies queried said they would consider moving from Israel or reducing their work force.