High Court Nixes Sick Pay for Preventively Quarantined

YERUSHALAYIM -
israeli high court
High Court Justice Alex Stein (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s High Court on Monday struck down a Health Ministry order saying that employers must compensate workers for time spent in quarantine due to the coronavirus.

Early in the outbreak, Director of Public Health in the Health Ministry, Prof. Sigal Sadetsky, who has since left the post, issued the directive.

Subsequently, the Manufacturers Association in Israel petitioned the court to annul the order on the grounds that it put an unfair burden on employers.

Following the court’s ruling on Monday, the government must compensate quarantined individuals, or they will go without pay for the days they were in quarantine.

The ruling will not go into effect until after September 30, however, in order to give the government time to prepare and adjust legislation.

The decision focused on workers who were forced into quarantine as a preventive measure, but who did not display symptoms of the disease. Therefore, the judges determined that they could not be classified as sick and eligible for sick pay.

“This change of balance, which has ramifications for employment rights for both sides, is not the sole jurisdiction of the Health Ministry, but that of the legislator.”

Justice Alex Stein said: “We are in the midst of an unprecedented national crisis. We are all worried, careful, and wear face masks in order to prevent infection, but we continue to debate issues based on the same legal language and principles that always existed.

“In this situation, … ‘statistical patients’ who are in preventive quarantine and do not show any symptoms, are not ill with any disease which could prevent them from working. Their inability to work was forced on them by administrative order that does not adhere to the legal parameters of sick days.”