Supporting Citizens during COVID-19
In the wake of COVID-19, Israel faced simultaneous health, economic, and social crises.
At 121, we set to work researching and formulating complementary government proposals to ensure that all Israeli citizens receive the support they need during this difficult time.
These are our goals and our achievements:
Appropriate compensation for senior workers who lose their jobs
Prior to the pandemic, there were 150,000 workers aged 67 or older. By law, they are not entitled to unemployment benefits.
Those who have been dismissed or furloughed in the wake of the pandemic were only entitled to a senior citizen benefit of 2,300 NIS ($715) a month.
58% of these workers have no private pension income; in many cases, losing their jobs leads to poverty and insecurity.
We demanded unemployment benefits for all senior workers who lost their jobs due to Covid-19.
Our advocacy efforts, including a successful public campaign, convinced the government to provide a monthly grant of 4,000 NIS ($1,250) to these unemployed workers for the period from March 2020 until October 2021. Some 50,000 people were eligible for the monthly grant because of their age and received stipends totaling 1.5 billion NIS ($470m).
Unemployment benefits for recipients of other allowances who lost their jobs
We campaigned together with 24 other civil society organizations, and hundreds of activists, to demand unemployment benefits for people who’d been dismissed from their jobs in the wake of COVID-19. These people were recipients of disability, old age, and income supplement benefits; due to a ban on double benefits, they were not eligible for full unemployment benefits even though they needed it the most.
As a result of our campaigning and advocacy, the government issued a temporary order early on in the COVID-19 crisis that lifted the ban on double benefits until December 2021. As a result, 40,000 unemployed people who fell through the cracks received unemployment benefits totaling 700M NIS ($220M). Without this much-needed amendment, those citizens were at risk of falling into poverty.
What We’re Working On Now
We’re calling for the permanent lifting of the ban on double benefits: Unemployed recipients of government benefits (i.e. disability, pension, income support, etc) should receive full unemployment benefits, no matter the cause of their unemployment.
A program to support the unemployed
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, we’ve demanded that the government plan and implement a program to assist the unemployed who face many challenges and changes in the workforce.
The partnership we created The Springboard: Partnership for Investment in the Workforce of the Future formulated new models for government support for training. The Ministries of Labor and Finance have adopted most of them, including the green track, where employers and training institutions initiate courses and receive funding.
In addition, in the wake of the pandemic, we joined dozens of social change organizations, representing diverse population groups, and created the “Headquarters for Employment Advancement”. Together, we formulated and presented to the Bennett-Lapid government an employment policy that could create immediate incentives for returning to work for those who can, along with assistance in creating better employment opportunities for those who need them.
- 12The budget we requested, NIS 1.5 billion for training in the years 2020-2021, was approved by the government and the Knesset.
- The government and the Knesset responded to our call and temporarily abolished the statutory cut of 30% in unemployment benefits for the unemployed who participate in training until the end of 2021.
- The new government complied with our request and decided to concentrate the employment bodies under one ministry, the Ministry of Economy, and is working to synchronize their work for the unemployed.
What We’re Working On Now
- Reaching all unemployed people who need assistance: Checking the background and employment options of all those who are registered as job seekers, and providing job offers that match their skills and abilities, or professional training that will help them integrate into the workforce.
- Permanent full unemployment benefits for participants in vocational training programs: Cancelling the offset of 30% in unemployment benefits for participants in vocational training programs.
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