The High Court of justice ruled Monday that the Health Ministry’s sweeping sick days certification for employees who are in isolation because of the coronavirus should be revoked.
The High Court ruled that the Sick Pay Act does not authorize the head of Public Health Services in the Health Ministry to issue a blanket medical certification to all employees who are in isolation for fear of contracting the Corona virus. This means, essentially, that if by October the Sick Day Act would not be amended, the loss of income because of being in isolation will become the responsibility of the isolated employee and not their employer.
The hearing was held before Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justices Uzi Vogelman and Alex Stein.
The petition regarding the payment of sick days to workers staying in isolation due to the coronavirus was filed by the Manufacturers Association, the Craft and Industry Association, the Cleaning Companies Association and the Sal Company against Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Minister of Labor and Welfare Itzik Shmuli.
The High Court analyzed the language of the Sick Pay Act and ruled that fear of illness or infection from the coronavirus does not by itself constitute a disease that deprives the employee of the ability to perform their work, which the law requires.
However, in order to prevent harm to employees and allow for appropriate preparations, the court determined that the revocation of the sweeping sick leave certificate for those staying in solitary confinement will take effect only on 30 September.
The person who issued the generous certificate (with employers’ money) was the departing head of Public Health Services at the Health Ministry, Prof. Sigal Sadecki, who recently announced her desire to retire.
Sadecki faced harsh criticism over the past few months for essentially winging it when it came to setting policy, often without scientific basis.
The purpose of the petitioners was to remove the burden of paying full salaries for long stretches of unemployment, but the court ruling may not necessarily give them what they want, seeing as they re now stuck with a confirmed obligation to continue paying full salaries to employees who are isolated at home through the next two months.
‘Tis the stuff of bankruptcies, and, besides, by the time September 30 rolls in, someone in government is likely to catch another generous fever and stick employers with an amended Sick Pay Act.