Is an employer required to give holiday gifts to his employees ?

There is no directive or law that makes holiday gifts to employees mandatory. It is however, a nice gesture and one usually well appreciated by employees. The right of employees to a holiday gift may be embedded in an individual work contract or a collective work agreement, an expanded regulation order based on a collective agreement or common practice in the past in the place of work. In any of these cases, the employer would be bound to the agreement.
In the public sector, this is specified in the collective work agreement.

If an employer does give employees holiday gifts, with regard to eligibility of employees who are currently on non-paid leave, maternity leave, etc, if it is common practice at the palce of work, it is the employer’s discretion whether to give employees currently not receiving pay or not and how much.

Some employers give permanant employees one gift and a lesser gift to part-time or temp employees.

With regard to taxes; section 2 (2) of the Income Tax Order specifies that “any benefit given to an employee by an employer, whether money or value of money (coupons, actual gifts), whether directly given or indirectly given, are considered taxable income”. The result is that gifts, or their actual worth, are taxable  (income tax, social security and health tax) and they need to be separately itemized on the payslip. Most employers will pick up the tab on the taxes (although it is not mandatory), as it’s not the employee’s fault that the employer decides to give him a gift. That basically means that if the employer gives say 350 sh in coupons, he would add a separate item on the payslip for 350 sh net, the taxes would be deducted but the employee’s net pay would not be efeected due to the gift.

gift

Employer’s contribution towards employee’s meals

Employees in the public sector, that are able to benefit from discounted meals. the new ceiling for employer participation, effective from Jan 1, 2014, is 569 shekels per month.

This memorandum doesn’t enable employers, who previously did not participate in the cost, to now do so. The above regards places of employment that offer discounted meals or via meal tickets (which are regarded as employer participation).

this has no bearing on the private sector.

 

Source:  Ministry of Finance bulletin

e-Book: 2013 Tax Benefits for Salaried Employees in Israel


Finally released via Amazon kindle – The 2013 updated version of the Tax Benefits for Salaried Employees in Israel, in English !

Just in time for the end of the tax year, find out if you have correctly utilized all the tax benefits you are entitled to, as a salaried employee.

If your employer failed to credit you or you were not aware of certain tax benefits that you qualify for, no worries !

Taxes are configured annually, so if you update your employer before December’s payroll is processed you will be credited retroactively to January 2013.

And if you weren’t able to update your employer’s payroll dept by Dec’s payroll, just file for a tax rebate.

Get your copy today !

 

So, what exactly is a “keren hishtalmut” ?

Keren Hishtalmut

Roughly translated, a keren hishtalmut is an advanced study fund. This is in actuality a savings plan. In the past it used to be a dedicated savings plan, meaning that the funds could only be used for enhanced studies. Today, it can be used for any purpose.

In recent years, the monetary market has undergone revisions and changes, and at present keren hishtalmut is the only medium length savings plan, that the earned interest is still tax exempt (provided of course that the deposits are within the ceiling published by the Tax Authority)

What are the % of contributions towards keren hishtalmut ?

For salaried employees, The employee’s contribution is deducted directly from the gross pay via the paylsip.

Employee contributions are usually 2.5%  and employer’s contributions are 7.5%.

For self-employed, the contribution is 7% (up to 17,040 sh annually)

 

How much can I deposit into a keren hishtalmut ?

The annual ceiling from which contributions can be made is currently 188,544 sh (or 15,712 sh per month). Contributions from higher amounts result in taxation on the portion over the ceiling.

 

How long is the keren hishtalmut plan ?

Keren Hishtalmut savings plans are  a six-year plan. The accumulated sums in the fund can be used after 4 years tenure towards advanced studies. They cannot be used towards a university degree, but rather on enhancement courses, regardless of the subject.

At the end of 6 years tenure, all the accumulated sums can be withdrawn and be used for any purpose, However they do not have to be withdrawn and remain available for immediate withdrawl upon request, while at the same time continue to gain interest.

Since this type of savings plan is very attractive, it would be wise not to withdraw the money after 6 years, if you do not need to.

 

Is keren hishtalmut mandatory ?

No, it is not. The labor laws do not mention it at all.
In the public sector (Government, Municipalities, etc) it is mandatory due to existing work agreements and custom procedure in the place of employment.
In the private sector, it is a nice perk that you may be able to get instead of a higher salary via contract negotiations.
Some places of employment will give keren hishtalmut after certain tenure has been reached.

Bituach Leumi – Tax or benefit ?

Many Olim do not understand why they need to pay Bituach Leumi and Health Tax from their salary. “I pay my health tax to Kupat Cholim, so this is a double tax” or “I have health insurance from abroad – I don’t need it, so can’t I just tell my employer to cancel it and not deduct it from my pay ?” are just a few of the questions I am asked frequently.

Well, no,  you cannot just cancel it.   Let’s start at the beginning:  Before this started ( the mandatory health tax) in Jan 1995, people could choose not to be a member of a health fund (kupat cholim) and they weren’t insured. Each fund had it’s own criteria and could accept members, or not, according to their own criteria. These included past medical history, so for example, someone who had diabetes would not be able to choose which fund they wanted but were only accepted to Klalit.

The other thing was that each fund had different rates that were based on the member’s gross income. There were problems with this system too. If both husband and wife worked they paid more than if only one of them worked.
Let’s say that someone was wealthy, but was doing internship as a lawyer  and thus making minimum wage, they would pay the minimum where someone else who made a bit more than that and maybe wasn’t as wealthy might pay double what the wealthy intern was paying.

Many people would forge payslips in order to get reduced rates.

The Health Ministry by introducing the mandatory health law put all of this in the past. Everyone who has Israeli citizenship must have a health fund. You can choose any fund and they must accept you. Today this is done simply by filling out a form at your local post office with your teudat zehut.
The basic coverage is deducted from the salary and transferred by the employer to Bituach Leumi each month. Each fund has additional coverage packages that are optional and one needs to sign up via the fund directly. payment is between you and the fund and there is no connection to your employer or your payslip.

The problem is that these additions are not cheap, but without them you will not get very much insurance at all. The basic insurance covers only what is specified by the law. (the coverage is updated from time to time – usually when the state budget is passed in the knesset)

So, in a way- Yes it is a double tax. If you work you pay, if not, not. However it is mandatory and not optional. If both Husband and wife are working you’re both paying, if only one works, the other is exempt from payment, either way you get the same coverage.

Employees that are Foreign workers or receiving an old-age stipend from Bituach Leumi are exempt from paying the health tax via payroll. (As opposed to Kupat Cholim payments which are a type of Insurance and non-payroll related. – contact your local Kupat Cholim for rates, etc)

Bituach Leumi is Social Security. The months that you work ensure that you procure credit for them via the deductions from your salary.

You are buying coverage for the following:

  • old age stipend (Women from age 62 and men from age 67)
  • work-related accident
  • maternity leave
  • employer bankruptcy
  • loss of work ability stipend
  • unemployment
  • health insurance
Each of the above have specific criteria, who is eligible and under which circumstances (see Bituach leumi’s website for more information: http://www.btl.gov.il/English%20homepage/Pages/default.aspx)
Both employer and employee contribute towards the health tax and social security as a pro-rated percentage based on the total gross taxable salary.
The percentages differ between age groups (under 18, 18-62, 62-70, 70 +) as well as between foreign residents and Israeli citizens.
Anyone who is receiving an old-age stipend is exempt from both the health tax and social security.
There are two levels: The lower level is up to 5,171 sh gross (updated Jan 2012) and the percentages are listed as follows (lower rate listed first higher rate (over 5,171 sh and up to a ceiling of 41,850 sh monthly).
Age                                                              Social Security   Health tax Who pays
18 – retirement age 0.4 %  / 7 % 3.1 % / 5 % employee
18 – retirement age  3.45 % 5.9 % employer
up to age 18 or above retirement age and receiving old age stipend 0.38 % / 0.93 % exempt employer only
From retirement age – (but not receiving old age stipend) 0.27 % / 4.86 % 3.1 % / 5 % employee
From retirement age – (but not receiving old age stipend) 3.15% 5.38% employer
Above old age stipend age  (but not receiving old age stipend) exempt  3.1 % / 5 % employee
Above old age stipend age  (but not receiving old age stipend) 0.38 % / 0.93 % exempt employer
Foreign employee  0.04 % / 0.87 % exempt employee
Foreign employee  0.49 % / 1.17 % exempt employer
Employee on non-paid vacation 6.57 %  from min wage exempt employee
These are Social laws that enable most employees to be eligible for a series of possible stipends for events that can occur during a lifetime.
Although Bituach Leumi is still far from a service-oriented organization, at least today they have computers. I guess that in itself is a huge accomplishment due to the work-ethics and culture in Government agencies and the educational background of their employees.

 

 

 

Section 14 of the Severance pay law

 

The severance pay law (1963) is the law that defines the employee’s right to severance pay at the end of employment.

On a side note, there are criteria specifically defined in the law that determine under which circumstances an employee is entitled to severance pay. But, that is not what this blog post is about. However, there are 2 basic criteria that determine eligibility for severance pay in regular cases: An employee worked for at least one year and he was fired. If the employee resigns he forfeits the right to severance pay. (There are exceptions, but we won’t get into that right now).

Section 14 of the severance pay law is titled “severance and benefits” and it deals with cases in which both the employer and employee made contributions (via the payslip) towards pension or savings plans. According to section 14, the monies accumulated in the “severance pay” portion can be substituted for severance pay. Or in other words, by releasing the severance pay portion to the employee, the employer would then be exempt from paying any severance pay !

In 1998, the Minister of Labor signed an order enabling employers together with their employees to agree on enforcing section 14 at the place of employment. In this case, they do not need the Minister’s signature to enforce it. However, there are certain criteria that must be met in order to enforce section 14:

  1. The payments to the pension plan/ savings plan need to be the % defined in the general permit (including insurance coverage).
    This means only full pension and not mandatory pension
  2. There needs to be explicit agreement in writing between the employer and the employee, prior to start of employment.
    This means that it is part of the work agreement and known in advance.
  3. The employer needs to forfeit explicitly return of severance pay to him if the employee resigns.
    This means that employee leaving employ for whatever reason would receive the severance pay that has accumulated in the pension plan and nothing more.
  4. The monthly payments need to be paid on-time  !
    This means that the deductions from payroll need to be deposited into the pension plan by the 15th of each month. If the employer writes the check to the pension plan on the 15th and sends it via mail – that doesn’t count. One can easily see the date of deposit on the semi-annual statements the pension plan companies are required to send to the employees.

All of the above conditions need to be met in order for this to be legal.

The above is a risk for both sides: for the employee, forfeits his right to full severance pay, even when fired. On the other hand, the employer forfeits his right to reclaim severance pay from the fund in case of resignation.

The aforementioned permit from 1998  allows for retroactive enforcement provided it be in writing and within 3 months of starting the pension plan for the employee, no later.

So if your employer wakes up one day and decides that section 14 should apply to all employees – not so fast !

Employers who give Mandatory pension plan only – the law which came into effect starting Jan 2008 at lower rates than full pension plans are not eligible foe section 14 of the severance pay law.

 

 

Calculating Vacation & Havra’a

This article was published at the Voleh blog.

Havra’a is a mandatory payment by law. It is paid annually to all employees who have at least one year’s tenure with their current employer. There are several rates (for private and public sector) and they are updated each year in June. Continue reading “Calculating Vacation & Havra’a”

2011 Convalescence Pay (Dmei Havra’a) Rates

Effective June 2011 the following rates are in effect for Havra’a pay:

Private sector = 365 shekels per day
Public sector = 411 shekels per day

The number of days an employee is entitled to with regard to Dmei Havra’a is according to their tenure with the current employer, provided they have completed at least one full year of tenure. Continue reading “2011 Convalescence Pay (Dmei Havra’a) Rates”

Youth Employment 2011

This article was published at the Almost Eden blog.

Just in time for the summer vacation! Make sure your teenage kids who found a summer-time job are paid according to the law. Effective July 2011, the new minimum wages for youth are as follows:

apprentices = 14.22 shekels per hour
up to age 16 = 16.59 shekels per hour
up to age 17 = 17.77 shekels per hour
up to age 18 = 19.67 shekels per hour
from age 18 and up = 22.04 shekels per hour

There are special regulations in effect for employing youth: Continue reading “Youth Employment 2011”

Everything you wanted to know about Havra’a payment

 

Everything you wanted to know about Havra’a payment

Submitted by Moshe on Mon, 30/08/2010 – 23:51

 

What is Havra’a payment ?
Havra’a payment (or convalescence pay) is an annual, mandatory payment effecting all employers in the state of Israel via an expanded regulation order signed by the Minister of Labor. This means it is treated as a law.
Havra’a pay is paid to all employees who have at least one year of tenure with the employer.
Those who don’t are not eligible, but the following year are eligible to receive Havra’a payment for the full year plus the portion of the first year.
The payment is a number of days (see table below) multiplied by the rate (currently 351 shekels), which is updated every June. Employees who work less than full-time positions, it is prorated according to your % of position actually worked (including sick days, vacation, reserve duty and maternity leave).
There are two rates, one for the private sector and another, higher rate for the public sector. There are also separate tables of days of Havra’a eligibility for Histadrut employees, municipal employees and teachers.

Since most of the users of this site are employed in the private sector I have chosen to relate to this only.

Tenure with employer                       Number of Havra’a days
1 year                                                                     5
2-3 years                                                                   6
4 -10 years                                                               7
11-15 years                                                                8
16-19 years                                                                9
20 years and  upwards                                         10

 

Example: an employee who has been employed with the employer for 4 years in the private sector would receive as follows:

7 days * 351 sh = 2,451 sh (gross)

Note: There are employers who prefer to pay Havra’a on a monthly basis instead of a one-time annual payment. This is legal and the result would be an additional payment on each payslip of 1/12 of the Havra’a payment. Of course the amount needs to be updated annually (usually in June or July payroll).

Old Age Stipend – Social Security (Bituach Leumi)

Old Age Stipend – Social Security (Bituach Leumi)

Submitted by Moshe on Mon, 26/07/2010 – 09:23

 

In response to many recent questions, following is a short and very general explanation.

A detailed and thorough explanation is available in English on Bituach Leumi’s website:
http://www.btl.gov.il/English%20Homepage/Benefits/Old%20Age%20Insurance/…

In general, there are mnay conditions based on age, sex, marital status, for olim – their age when they made aliyah as well as total gross income.
The old age stipend is one of the most important branches of insurance in the social insurance system in Israel and is part of the social benefits detailed in the Social Security Law (Bituach Leumi).
It’s purpose is to ensure a monthly income to Israeli Residents who are eligible in their retirement years.

The old age stipend, as defined by the Social Security Law, makes eligible Israeli residents who have reached the eligible age, provided they have been insured at least the minimum time as defined by the law and the insurance money has been paid for them.
There are two ages defined by law: retirement age and entitlement age.

In instances where an employee goes on early retirement (before old age) they may be eligible, depending on their total gross income (excluding pension payments).
When a person reaches the old age defined by law, they are eligible regardless of their gross income provided they meet the other criteria.

Both the retirement age and entitlement age are defined specifically by the Social Security Law, and they are different for men and women. Up until June 30, 2004 retirement age was 65 for men and 60 for women. Begining July 1, 2004, the law redifined the retirement age for men to 67 and 64 for women.
Because of this change in the law, Men who were born between 7/1939 and 4/1942 and women who were born between 7/1944 and 4/1953, the age is gradual. (see the chart on Social Securty’s site)

The site is very informative and also has instructions as to how to file and what documents are needed.