The National Labour Court recently ruled that the widow of an employee, who had remarried her former husband on his deathbed, was not entitled to the various social benefits which had accrued to the benefit of the deceased's dependants. The employer refused to compensate the widow for severance pay differentials and the redemption of unused sick leave pay, claiming that such benefits were not part of the estate and that the widow was not a 'spouse' for the purposes of the social benefits claimed.
The issue of fixed-term employment – both in general and in the civil service in particular – raises many legal issues. The Supreme Court of Justice recently had an opportunity to provide a ruling in a case involving judges' legal assistants who were employed under special contracts. The ruling is an example of how the Supreme Court can create or force the legislature or the parties to an employment relationship to create special solutions for employment situations that do not fit conventional models.
Israeli collective labour relations confer a unique status on unions that are considered to be representative unions. According to a recent National Labour Court decision, the recognition of a union's representativeness must be followed by a period of stability in order to give the union and the employer an opportunity to establish a relationship of trust and cooperation. However, if clear indications suggest that the union is no longer representative, the employer may challenge the representativeness.
The Labour Court recently ruled that employers have a duty to inform prospective employees that the job that is offered to them is temporary and could be terminated at the end of a brief period, irrespective of their performance. The court ruled that, in the absence of other information, a candidate is entitled to assume that if he or she carries out the job satisfactorily, in the absence of unforeseen events, he or she can remain in employment indefinitely.
A recent employment case found that an employer whose employee started a competing business during his employment was entitled to compensation, even though the employer could not prove unlawful misappropriation of its confidential information or solicitation of its clients. Although the employer was unable to prove the misappropriation of confidential information, it was awarded damages for the breach of trust and bad faith exhibited by the employee.
Whistleblowers often claim that they were dismissed due to their whistleblowing activities and are therefore entitled to the special statutory compensation intended to protect whistleblowers. However, even if an employee is convinced that the irregularities cautioned against occurred, he or she must exercise caution, as unrestrained conduct could lead to lawful dismissal.
The Supreme Court recently ruled on a petition to annul the provision in the Retirement Age Law that allows employers to retire employees at the mandatory retirement age. Although it did not abolish the mandatory retirement age, the court ruled that forced retirement due to age breaches the constitutional right to dignity and equality.
In a recent case, the postal authority sued postal agencies for breach of contract following strike action. The agencies argued that strike laws applicable under employment law were relevant to their actions, which should not be considered a breach of contract. However, the court found that the agencies were independent contractors, and therefore employment law did not apply and they could not benefit from the relevant strike laws.
The fear of losing management flexibility deters many employers from entering into collective bargaining relations. However, the loss of management flexibility is not an inevitable result of such relations. During negotiations for a collective agreement, the employer must be aware that it is entitled to safeguard its management prerogative, and it would do well to master the issues that are within its remit.
A court recently considered whether an employer can unilaterally bestow benefits resulting from negotiations with a union in case of a failed attempt to sign a collective agreement. It observed that employees should be allowed to receive benefits even if these are under review. However, unions should explain that the unilateral bestowal of benefits cannot compensate for the lack of job security which prevails without a collective agreement.
The phenomenon of employees secretly recording their superiors and colleagues has become widespread. However, two recent court rulings made unequivocal statements defining secret recordings by employees as a breach of trust and discipline that could justify disciplinary measures and also affect the remedies to which the employee who made the hidden recordings could have been entitled.
If an employee is suspected of a criminal or disciplinary offence, he or she is presumed innocent until proven guilty; but this presumption is restricted to criminal or disciplinary proceedings. The courts recognise that an employer may have a legitimate interest to protect itself which justifies the decision to terminate or suspend employment, and generally will not intervene in this decision.
An employee's entitlement to prior notice in case of dismissal became a specific statutory entitlement with the enactment of the Prior Notice in Case of Dismissal and Resignation Law 2001. But in the case of an enterprise changing hands, what is the duty of the employer to provide prior notice to employees who continue to work for the employer that purchased the enterprise?
The legality of employing workers on fixed-term contracts in permanent positions has not been fully scrutinised by the judiciary in Israel. In a recent case the regional labour court ruled that the state's fixed-term employment of judges' legal assistants for four years was unlawful. This ruling highlights some of the main issues involved in fixed-term employment.
Employers that make artificial distinctions of the remuneration payable to employees are exposed to the risk of litigation that may end with the offset contention being rejected. There are sometimes cases of genuine disputes that are best resolved by a compromise settlement for the payment of an extra sum against the employee signing a comprehensive waiver; but this should not be the first choice.
Hot Mobile exposed Hot Mobile Ltd's breaches of its employees' right to form a union and serves as a reminder that employer interference with the right to form a union still exists. The right to form a union reinforces the democratic process by enabling employees to be involved in decisions that affect their future.
An employer that deducts compensation for damage for which it alleges an employee is liable from any payments to which that employee is entitled does so unlawfully and at its own risk. The employee may sue the employer for the amount deducted and also claim special compensation in respect of delayed salary, as well as for breach of good faith.
While whistleblowing can be beneficial, it is not always clear whether the complaint is genuine. Although some whistleblowers have pure motives, others act to achieve personal goals or protection in the workplace to which they are not entitled. Under the Whistleblowers Protection Law, a whistleblower who does not act in good faith may be liable to compensate the employer or the employee complained against.
The Equal Opportunities in Employment Law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, age or religion. However, there are other criteria that are not prohibited by law, but that are irrelevant in the workplace and may therefore be prohibited by the general principle of equality. A recent case considered the application of awards in relation to discrimination not explicitly covered under the law.
The Supreme Court recently confirmed a non-profit lottery organisation's decision to reject a candidate after it became known that he was being investigated on suspicion of bribery. The court reasoned that the fact that a criminal investigation was being conducted on suspicion of dishonest acts was a relevant fact that the holder of the tender could take into consideration when choosing the most suitable candidate for the position.