The Knesset's Labor and Welfare Committee approved the wage-default bill Tuesday, ahead of its second and third Knesset readings. Should the new bill mature into a law it would make any delay in paying a worker's salary a felony punishable by up to six months in jail and NIS 35,000 (about $10,000) fine.
The committee also granted a request by the Histadrut Labor Federation, to include local and religious councils in the new regulations, in accordance with an agreement struck by the Histadrut, the Prime Minister's Office, the Justice and Industry, Trade and Labor ministries and Shas.
The committee, which debated the bill on Monday, refrained from voting on it then deeming it too harsh on local and religious councils, where the phenomenon of wage delays is unfortunately common. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that the bill's draft remained essentially unchanged, the committee voted in favor of the bill this morning.
According to the bill, the industry, trade and labor minister would be able to impose a $10,000 fine on any employer who defaults on paying wages, and increase the fine with any day that passes. In cases of recurring delays, the fine may double and the minister would also be able to file criminal charges against an employer who delays wages for over 90 days.
Should criminal charges be filed, the court would be able to sentence such an employer to up to six months in jail.
The bill also states that if an employer is able to prove that the wage delay was caused by reasons beyond his control, the minister would have the option not to press charges. Any criminal procedure taken against an employer will not, however, infringe on an employee's rights to seek restitution via the Labor Court.
The Histadrut said that it hopes the new sanctions would contribute to curbing wage delays both in the private and public sectors.
The wage-default bill is the last of 12 legislative amendments proposed by the Histadrut and will take effect not later than a year after new Labor Law amendments, calling for increased enforcement of labor regulations take effect. The Knesset is set to vote on the new enforcement amendments within the next few weeks.