New Law Will Eliminate Need to ‘Prove’ Shabbos Observance for Workers

YERUSHALAYIM -
(Gitty Golds)

The Knesset Economics Committee, headed by United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, on Monday approved for further legislation a change in the Law on Rest and Days Off. The change, sponsored by MKs Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) and Miki Zohar (Likud), would allow any Jewish person to ask for Shabbos as their day off, without requiring them to prove their level of observance.

The law will potentially affect tens of thousands of workers at organizations that operate on Shabbos, chalilah, from stores to the Israel Electric Company and other utilities, as well as newspapers, gas stations and other establishments. Until now, employees who sought to have Shabbos off had to prove that they observed Shabbos, at least to some extent – by bringing a letter from their local Rabbi, or in some cases with a self-declaration.

With that, the law as it stands currently has a section that will allow officials to assign exceptions to the new rules. MKs on the Committee, including Lavie and Zohar, are trying to get that section removed.”This is an important and historical change to the law that will affect everyone – religious, secular and traditional,” said Lavie. “The law clearly reflects Israel’s values as a Jewish and democratic state. I am positive that this law will pass in the Knesset in the coming months.”

To further strengthen the law, MK Betzalel Smotrich proposed another rider to the law – one that will place the head of the Religious Services Minister in charge of distributing or approving work permits to “necessary enterprises” that must operate on Shabbos. The change is a technical one, replacing the title of the government official in charge of religious issues with the new title. Previously, the Minister of Religious Affairs had been in charge of that, but the Ministry of Religious Affairs was disbanded over a decade ago, and the law had never been updated to accommodate the new office, which is a part of the Prime Minister’s Office.