The Knesset plenum approved the preliminary reading of the “Hours of Work and Rest Bill,” which would prohibit forcing any Israeli, observant or non-observant, to work on Shabbat.

The bill was introduced by MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) and a group of MKs. Fifty-six MKs supported the legislation in the preliminary vote, and two opposed. Coalition members were permitted to vote freely on the bill.

The proposed bill will allow employees to legally refuse to work on the Jewish day of rest, including those who do not strictly observe Shabbat, without risking dismissal or affecting their chances of being hired.

Approved in a preliminary hearing:  Every worker, observant or non-observant, allowed to refuse to work on Shabbat

(Shabbat candles, Photo by Olaf.herfurth

Under current law, an employee who refuses to work on the day of rest according to the religion he or she observes may do so to uphold religious requirements. However, an employer may request of the employee to submit an affidavit that confirms religious convictions and observances. If the employee is Jewish, the employer may demand of the employee to sign a declaration that he or she keeps kosher at home and does not travel on Shabbat.

The new bill seeks to abolish these requirements, and allows for employees to refuse to work on their weekly day of rest, which would allow Jews to refuse to work on the Shabbat even if they do not strictly observe Shabbat, but feel that working on Shabbat goes against their beliefs.

”Currently you have to lie and say that you are religious in order not to work on Shabbat, and secular people who do not want to work on Shabbat run the risk of getting fired. Regardless of whether you are religious, secular, Christian or Muslim, the weekly day of rest is a supreme value for us all,” MK Lavie said. ”Shabbat does not belong to religious Jews only.”