Feb 28, 2011

The Sunday-Less Work-Week

One of the big issues in the anglo "community" in Israel is the lack of "Sundays" like back in the old country. Many of us would love a day off like Sunday, a day to get together with family, relax, sports, go out for tiyulim, and enjoy. The issue generally comes up around election time, with a couple politicians paying lip service to the issue in an attempt to garner a few more supporters, but doing nothing about promoting it after elections are over.

As of right now, 2011 is not an election year, yet Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom is promoting the issue of making Sunday into a non-workday.

From Israel National News:
Cabinet Minister Silvan Shalom, who has headed both the Finance and Foreign Ministries, is promoting an official 5-day workweek; Sundays will be off.

The proposal will require a change in the Work and Rest Hours Law, which currently calls for workdays of no longer than 8 hours (not including breaks) and a workweek of no longer than 45 hours. Shalom’s idea is to give Sundays off, and add a half-hour of work to each day Monday through Friday. Work will end at 2 P.M.on Friday afternoon during the summer, and an hour earlier during the winter.

The Sabbath and Sunday will both be deemed official days of rest.

It has been reported that Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the Sephardic-hareidi-religious camp has expressed interest in the idea, because it would release public pressure to keep stores open on the Sabbath and would thus decrease Sabbath desecration.

Shalom, who is currently Vice Prime Minister, is still in the planning stages regarding meetings with the head of the national Histadrut Labor Union, representatives of the employers, and other market elements. He is optimistic, however: “A long Saturday-Sunday weekend will change the country from one extreme to the other,” he says. “It could bring about calm; the feeling of freedom will enable people to come to work on Monday more calmly and with more motivation. In addition, by adding hours to the day, there will be more production… The banking and economic systems will be more synchronized with the world.”

A change in the work week will also bring about changes in the educational system – longer school days, with lunch programs, and no Sunday classes.
The discussion of whether Sunday should be a workday or not always reminds me of the joke of the ministers who were discussing moving to a 4.5 day workweek - Monday through Thursday with a half Friday, to which a minister responded first we have to get the Israelis to work 2 days a week, then we can move up to 3 days, then 4, and then we will be able to move to a 4.5 day workweek.

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