Yesterday the Israeli government approved new regulations for employers, allowing for a staggered return to the workplace as part of the governmental exit strategy from COVID-19.
Under the new regulations the number of employees allowed to concurrently be present at a workplace that employs more than 10 workers has been increased from 15% to 30%, and the limitation on the presence at work of “envelope employees” – less essential workers – has been lifted.
More significantly, the 30% limitation will no longer apply and employees may fully return to work, if and for so long as conditions set by the new regulations are met. No external permission is required – meeting the new conditions is subject only to self-assessment, but their violation is a criminal offence of the employer.
Moreover, the employer’s CEO must sign a personal statement, committing to "take all precautions to ensure all necessary conditions are maintained" and affirming awareness to his duty to "ensure compliance with the regulations and enforce them in the workplace for the protection of public health”.
Even under this new regime the employer must, to the extent possible, allow employees to work from home. The question of which employee can effectively work from home will be determined individually in accordance with the specific circumstances of the business and of the employee. From this perspective as well, implementation of the new regulations is not self-evident and requires further analysis.
Given the exposure to criminal liability and the issues involved in interpreting the new regulations, as well as the broad commitments and statements made by the CEO, we strongly advise employers to seek and act upon legal advice when contemplating their employees’ return to the workplace.
We welcome our clients to contact us in advance to ensure all conditions are duly met before the return to the workplace, and are available via our direct telephone numbers as well as our main office number (+972-3-6846000).
The additional conditions to be fulfilled are as follows:
- The employer must appoint a supervisor (“Corona Regulations Supervisor”) in charge of compliance with the regulations.
- The employer must inform employees of the new regulations and rules by placing clearly visible signs at the workplace.
- The CEO and the Corona Regulations Supervisor must sign a personal statement to confirm compliance with the new regulations, as noted above (a link to the mandatory Hebrew form of the statement is provided below).
- If the authorized medical physician determines that an employee became sick with COVID-19 at the workplace, the workplace may be closed pending completion of the epidemiological investigation by the Ministry of Health.
- Employees must have their temperature measured before entering the workplace; an employee whose temperature exceeds 38°C may not enter the workplace.
- The employer shall assign each employee permanent personal equipment, to the extent possible, including a keyboard, mouse and telephone. Equipment used by more than one employee must undergo disinfection when passing between employees.
- In the workplace, each employee shall work from a permanent working station.
- The number of employees sitting simultaneously in a room will not exceed the following:
- In a room smaller than 20m2 - 2 employees (or more if there is a suitable partition between employees).
- In a room larger than 20m2 – up to 5 employees (or more if there is a suitable partition between employees).
- Business meetings of up to 8 attendees may be held in rooms larger than 20m2.
- To the extent possible, eating and drinking are to be restricted to the confines of the employee’s permanent workroom.
- The employer will maintain a record of the number of customers and suppliers in the workplace, the temperature measurements carried out, as well as cases of people who were not permitted to enter due to high temperature.
- Employees will work with regular suppliers to the extent possible.
- An employer who operates shuttle services to and from the workplace will endeavor, to the extent possible, to group the same employees together per shuttle bus.
Additionally, restrictions previously set on customer entry to the workplace have been eased. Customers may enter the workplace if the service cannot be provided remotely by alternative means, including digital means. Customers may only enter the workplace at a ratio of two customers per customer-service employee.
Finally, the restrictions on the deployment of employees in workplaces including division to several buildings have been relaxed.
As mentioned above, we are at your service for any matter regarding the above, and strongly recommend that you seek legal advice prior to the implementation of the new regulations.