Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir / TPS
Labor Minister Haim Katz

Israel’s work week will be shortened by one hour as of April 1, after Labor Minister Haim Katz signed an extension order that applies a previous agreement with Labor unions to the economy as a whole.

The move reduces the working week from 43 hours to 42 hours and from 186 hours per month to 182 hours per month; as a result Israel’s minimum wage increases to NIS 29.19, equal to approximately $8.45 according to current exchange rates.

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The extension order applies to the collective agreement reached last year between Histadrut Labor Federation chair Avi Nissenkorn and the Manufacturers Association, which was adopted two months ago by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

“This is a welcome move by Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn on behalf of Israel’s workers. The trend should be continued towards a further reduction,” Katz after signing the order.

Histadrut Chairman Nissenkorn said the move “improves the balance between work and leisure, and is an important first step toward the goal of a 40 hour work week.”

Israelis currently work among the highest number of hours among OECD member nations. Mexico tops the list (calculated yearly) with 2255 hours worked yearly; Israelis work 1889 a year; Americans work 1783 hours; Britons 1676; while Germans top the downtime charts, working only 1363 hours a year or 26 hours a week on average.

Manufacturers’ Association chairman Shraga Brosh welcomed the extension order, but noted that Israel must raise its productivity levels if it wishes to bring the work week into line with the OECD average.

“We must increase our productivity which is still lower by some 25 percent than that of workers in the U.S. and Europe,” Brosh said. “That is a significant figure that makes it difficult to increase quality of life in Israel and that gap can only be narrowed by massive investment in advanced technological equipment and high level technological personnel.”

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