Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
2 Kaplan St., Qiryat Ben-Gurion
LABOR: The Ministry develops human resources and allocates them optimally in view of the economy's needs, maximizing individuals' talents and fostering good labor relations. The Ministry's major function in this regard is to maximize the contribution of the labor force to national output and income. Employment policy is construed as part of economic policy and aims to maximize labor-force participation, achieve full employment, augment employment in preferred industries, promote vocational training, prevent loss of work days, sponsor labor and social-affairs legislation, maintain sound labor relations, and regulate occupational safety.
SOCIAL AFFAIRS: The Ministry aspires to assure individual opportunity, provides services promoting individuals' personal and socioeconomic well-being, promotes and advances communities, and sponsors legislation for the development of the social-security system.
The Ministry helps rehabilitate individuals and families in order to free them from dependency. The social services deal with the needy, the disabled, the elderly, the ill, children, teenagers, and the working poor. Services for the unemployed and their families maximize their prospects of rejoining the labor force upon the resumption of economic growth and ensure the sound functioning of low-income families, in order to prevent the exacerbation of personal and economic hardship.
The Ministry delivers services in all these spheres through its own agencies and through local authorities, public institutions, and volunteers.
The Employment Service, a corporation audited by the State Comptroller and regulated by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs under the Employment Services Law 5719-1959, refers job-seekers to available jobs or to vocational training or retraining, and helps employers find the personnel they need. As of 1989/90, the law required job-seekers and employers to liaise through the Ministry's labor exchanges, with the exception of jobs entailing university education, exceptional personal trust, or management duties. The law prohibits job discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, nationality, country of origin, political views and affiliations, and involvement in strikes or lockouts; it also prescribes equal job opportunity for men and women. The Employment Service gathers information about labor market conditions and development for purposes of regulating this market; refers job-seekers to employers through the labor exchanges; collaborates with other agencies in matters of vocational training and counseling; and sponsors activities for unemployed youth: selection of occupation, placement, and monitoring of their perseverance on the job.
The Manpower Training and Development Bureau prepares human-resource infrastructure on various occupational levels in view of the economy's present and future needs. The Bureau trains individuals for positions and in skills needed by industry and equips them with the vocational knowledge they will need for future advancement. The comprehensive array of advanced vocational-training courses for adults and youth is meant to maximize enrollment and meet the needs and aspirations of large groups within Israel's diverse population.
Manpower Planning Authority: The major function of manpower planning is to propose ways of effectively utilizing the economy's present and future human resources. The Authority formulates policy reconciling individuals' aspirations and market needs, and ensures the inclusion of human-resource considerations in the formulation of national or sectorial programs. Within this framework, the Authority makes recommendations on human-resource policy issues, advises the Minister and the Ministry administration on socioeconomic affairs, and functions as a human-resource information center for these officials, other Ministry agencies, and additional relevant bodies.
The Emergency Manpower Unit plans, organizes, and carries out all requisite preparations for providing the manpower to run vital and general services in times of emergency, as prescribed by the Emergency Labour Services Law 5727-1967. The Unit defines certain factories and enterprises as vital in times of emergency, designates and fills key positions, trains occupational personnel (drivers, hospital medical and paramedical staff, etc.) to run the economy during emergencies, conducts censuses to locate skilled personnel and assign duties under emergency conditions, establishes volunteer systems in Israel and abroad to strengthen vital plants and firms, organizes and trains Gadna ("paramilitary youth brigade") teenagers for emergency duties, mobilizes plants and firms in emergency situations, and procures essential human resources by obtaining court orders.
The Demography Center promotes the formulation of comprehensive government demographic policy meant to maintain a suitable level of Jewish population growth, and acts systematically to implement this policy. Most Center activities take place under the auspices of the Ministries of Construction and Housing, Education and Culture, and Health. Policy is formulated through field surveys and research, demographic conferences, experimental projects, and information activities.
The Development Town and Rural Settlement Advisory Bureau is a government agency that implements the policy of population dispersal from the core regions to peripheral (development) areas by promoting resettlement in the latter, thereby improving the country's demographic balance. The Bureau sponsors occasional tenanting campaigns in accordance with development and rural-settlement needs.
The Occupational Safety and Hygiene Institute is a State-owned enterprise that promotes safety and hygiene in the workplace. Institute personnel in all major cities offer safety instruction, information, and engineering consultancy services for companies, institutions, the courts, and miscellaneous organizations; develop safety devices and formulate specifications and regulations in conjunction with the Israel Standards Institute; organize informational and instructional activities, seminars, and conferences throughout industry and the economy; publish instructional materials and studies; disseminate publications; recruit new backers, and renew the activities of old backers. The Institute liaises with workplace safety committees, prepares risk-factor surveys, visits workplaces for instruction and information purposes, and offers advanced in-service programs in its areas of concern.
The Preventive Occupational Health and Research Committee: To further its objective of improving occupational safety and health, the Committee funds research and innovative special projects that help identify, mitigate, and prevent occupational health hazards. During the year in review, the Committee funded three research agencies connected with academic and medical institutions that engaged in occupational-health research, provided laboratory or instructional services in toxicology and safety, and funded 50 studies and projects on occupational health and safety. These included research on physiological and metabolic processes and mechanisms affected by occupational exposure to toxins; a survey aimed at identifying risk factors of heart disease among industrial workers; and the establishment of an information center at the Industrial Safety Institute. The Committee also implemented a project to promote health services in the workplace, including exercise, substance-abuse prevention, nutrition instruction, and stop-smoking programs.
The Labour Relations Division fosters sound labor relations and acts to resolve disputes through mediation and arbitration. The Division, in conjunction with the Labour Relations Promotion Institute and the Israel Productivity Institute, established a central database of collective labor agreements on the national, sectorial, and specific-plant levels. In accordance with the Collective Agreements Law 5717-1957, all collective labor agreements must be registered.
The Labour Regulation Division regulates workers' health, safety, and welfare, and advises workers and employees on workplace-safety measures that should be taken in order to prevent occupational accidents. The Division, with the Minister's approval, promulgated regulations meant to ensure that job safety in Israel meets the highest international standards, with special emphasis on the prevention of occupational injuries and diseases.
The Israel Productivity Institute develops methods of increasing the productivity and output of Israel's human resources, and advises factories and employees in the practical application of these methods. Field surveys conducted during the year in review led to the formulation of programs and recommendations in the following areas: stimulation of productivity and renewed economic growth; reformulation of the general attitude toward occupational safety and hygiene; policy recommendations on the transition to a shorter work week; development of the export potential of local firms; streamlining municipal services and agricultural marketing and exports; recommendations concerning Agriculture Ministry administrative policy; reduction of rush-hour traffic congestion; and the establishment of a small-business administration.
The Community Organization and Project Renewal Service works to improve community performance through community social workers who recruit residents of neighborhoods, towns, and villages to meet localities' social needs. The major goals are to help communities define their needs, help various groups organize to influence decision-making processes, modify existing services in keeping with residents' needs, and help communities plan and develop new services, coordinate community services, and establish local leadership. To attain these goals, the Service employs social planners in development towns and Project Renewal neighborhoods, and community workers in disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout the country. Their duties include helping residents participate in steering committees and subcommittees and advising them on planning and decision-making processes in matters affecting their communities. The neighborhood-election process has been expanded and a neighborhood administration model has been implemented.
The Volunteers Unit maximizes volunteer involvement in the social-service system and fosters the interpersonal human dimension within the organized therapeutic and professional services.
The Cooperative Societies Department registers cooperative societies; engages in legal, economic, social, and cooperative regulation; arbitrates disputes under Section 52 of the Cooperative Societies Ordinance; liquidates cooperative societies when necessary; helps organize and guide new cooperatives; conducts educational activities on various aspects of cooperative-society operations; liaises with cooperative movements and institutions worldwide; and runs a Cooperation School.
The Women's Employment and Status Division (WESD) helps develop policy on the promotion of women's occupational training and work outside the home, equal opportunity, and personal development. WESD areas of activity include the development of services for working mothers to facilitate their work outside the home. One of the main instruments in this regard is the daycare system. Services to promote women's status include vocational training, information, and legislation. The Ministry considers it of the utmost importance to eliminate occupational disparities between men and women, especially in high-level positions, and therefore sponsors advanced training meant to enhance women's career awareness and integration into modern management situations.
Personal and Social Services Division: The social services are concerned with human needs that require a personal approach and are meant to enhance the development and functioning of individuals, families, and communities, thus increasing their contribution to their surroundings and society. The social services are part of a comprehensive set of welfare services embracing income maintenance (guaranteed minimum income), rehabilitation, employment, housing, health, and education.
The Service for the Elderly acts to optimize seniors' functioning and prevent their decline. To meet these goals, the Service participates in the development of community and institutional services and helps regulate their activities. Under the Long-Term Nursing Insurance Law, fully implemented on April 1, 1988, persons largely or completely dependent on others for day-to-day activities, and persons in need of part- or full-time supervision who are not institutionalized, are eligible for a welfare allowance.
Institutional care: The Service develops geriatric centers and residences, and regulates various institutions that accommodate 11,500 seniors (3,000 with Ministry funding).
The Public Council for the Aged deals with education, volunteering, publicity, and administration of loan funds for the promotion of issues related to seniors' well-being.
The Service for Children and Youth protects and promotes the needs of children and youth, addresses problems in parents' and children's functioning, and ensures that the services offered meet appropriate standards. The Service deals with children suffering from emotional and educational problems that ordinary school settings fail to solve. Child abuse and neglect have recently gained greater attention, either because they have become more prevalent or because the media and society are more aware of them. One way the Service handles this problematic issue is by placing children outside the home. The Service supervises institutions and foster families that accommodate some 11,000 youngsters and acts to improve their standards of performance and level of care. At the same time, it is the Division's policy to maintain a "permanent home" for children, especially preschoolers; such children are not removed from their families unless there is a well-defined plan for a protracted stay outside the home, at the end of which they return to their parents or a suitable alternative is found. To implement this policy, the local authorities' social-service departments established 90 decision-making committees composed of representatives of welfare bureaus and inspection authorities, ensuring that children are placed only after extensive professional consideration of each case. To further combat child neglect and abuse, some 210 welfare officials implement the provisions of the Youth Law within the local authorities' social-service departments. Community-based services for children have been broadened and developed as alternatives to institutionalization. These include family-environment daycare facilities, afternoon activity centers, and intervention programs with professional support staff. Some 350 families receive guidance and support through parenting programs; all participating children benefit from Ministry-funded dental insurance.
The Service for Children (Adoption) is intended to ensure suitable permanent homes for children whose parents are unable to raise them, and to shorten the queue of families wishing to adopt and children awaiting adoption. In Israel, as in all countries, the issue of child adoption is problematic and complex. Even as childless couples queue to adopt babies, parentless older children and youngsters with developmental problems wait for adoption. Few infants are available because unmarried women are more aware of birth control and an increasing number of unmarried mothers choose to keep their newborns. To contend with the issue, the Service established a public committee to oversee implementation of the Adoption Law 5741-1981. If, as expected, fertility treatments and adoption possibilities abroad continue to improve, the waiting period for adoption may decrease. The issue of overseas adoption is still being studied by an interministerial committee headed by the Justice Ministry.
The Personal and Family Welfare Service acts to improve the personal, familial, and social standing of individuals and families with functioning difficulties. Two major principles guide the Service in its work:
To this end, the Service provides counseling and individual and/or group therapy for single-parent families and couples affected by crisis in marital relations, parenting difficulties, illness, violence, or social/behavioral deviation. These services are administered by the local authorities' social-service departments and 50 counseling centers. The Service also provides material assistance and support services such as day camps for mothers and household help.
Alcoholism treatment is an additional responsibility of the Service, which runs ten outpatient treatment centers for compulsive drinkers and one national-level residential institution (in conjunction with the Ministry of Health) that accommodates 140 patients per year. All centers treat both alcoholics and their families. The Service offers a prevention program in schools in concert with the Israel Alcoholism Prevention Society, and holds occasional professional symposiums and conferences.
The Service for the Retarded, an auxiliary unit of the Ministry, acts to improve the functioning of the mentally disabled and encourages families and communities to care for them in their natural surroundings. The level of retardation is determined by conventional diagnostic tools applied by multidisciplinary teams; the population group served by the Division comprises those defined as mentally disabled under these criteria. There are 20,000 known mentally disabled in the country, of whom some 11,000 are defined as functionally disabled. The Service operates government residential facilities for this population group, regulates private and public residences, and provides various community services directly and indirectly.
The Rehabilitation Department ensures the uninterrupted rehabilitation of anyone aged 0-65 who suffers from physical, developmental, sensory, mental, or psycho-social disabilities, including borderline mental retardation. Exceptions to this universal eligibility are disabled servicemen/women, institutionalized mental patients, persons in need of long-term care, and the autistic. The Department strives to provide uninterrupted care to all its clients, irrespective of their social and economic situation, source of referral, or eligibility for service under any other law. It is the Department's policy to improve clients' personal, occupational-vocational, economic, and social functioning and self-esteem notwithstanding their disabilities, and to help them attain independence in all areas of life. Special emphasis is placed on vocational training and job preparation. Efforts are made to "mainstream" the disabled and handicapped in all settings - work, home, and community.
The Department, assisted by governmental, public, and private organizations, operates the following rehabilitation settings, suited to various age groups:
Infants and Children: The emphasis is on early general and functional diagnosis and rehabilitation in order to prevent aggravation of disability and ensure normal development to the greatest extent possible. Some 2,000 children benefit from various organizations' services in 20 settings.
Youth: The emphasis is on appropriate early preparation (ages 14-15) for the transition from school to work, and terminating school attendance by those who cannot benefit from formal studies. The Department has five special offices that serve 400 teenagers.
Adults: Activities for the disabled stress occupational rehabilitation and are conducted within various settings established and developed by the Department over the years. These include vocational/general rehabilitation centers (under the auspices of the Rehabilitation Enterprise Fund); governmental, public agency, and voluntary rehabilitation centers; sheltered workshops (run by Hameshakem - see below); the Rehabilitation Enterprise Fund and public organizations; programs for work, supplementary studies, personal and vocational training, and home employment for the housebound; children's stimulational therapeutic and diagnostic centers; children's daycare and specialized rehabilitation facilities; and foster families and hostels for handicapped adolescents.
Sixteen Department-run centers provide diagnostic services for 10,000 disabled persons employed in workshops (plus another 180 who receive individualized training in mainstream settings). The Department also provides selective placement services and sheltered employment, accompanied by follow-up and supportive care, for those unable to cope with the labor market. In 1989/90, the Department cared for 1,700 such persons in 50 sheltered workshops and occupational day centers. Around 350 housebound clients participated in a Department-sponsored home-employment program, and nearly 4,000 disabled persons were employed in Hameshakem workshops and services. The Department provided residential and foster-family care for another 450 disabled and severely handicapped persons who could not take care of themselves individually, within a family, or in the community. Those capable of utilizing community services were eligible for Department assistance with independent living and support services (transportation, home repairs, purchase of appliances, etc.). The Department participates in the activities of various public associations engaged in rehabilitation, including Ilan, Micha, Nitzan, Shema, Aha, and several organizations for the blind.
Hameshakem, Ltd., provides sheltered occupational and industrial settings for the aged and for persons 18 and over with disabilities that preclude their integration into the mainstream labor market. Most referrals to Hameshakem are made by the labor exchanges' disabled persons classification committees, the NII Rehabilitation Department, the Ministry's rehabilitation centers, the local authorities' social-service departments, the Ministry of Defence Rehabilitation Department, and the Employment Service's income-maintenance section.
The Correctional Services provide diagnostics guidance, therapy, and rehabilitation for disadvantaged youth and/or those at risk of severe social problems, and for teenage (12+) and adult offenders housed in community or special residential settings under court order. The Division's philosophy is that offenders serving sentences outside prison, and persons released from prison after serving their sentences, should be given a second chance to integrate into society and be equipped with the requisite tools.
The Youth Rehabilitation Service provides educational, therapeutic, and rehabilitative services for young people who have dropped out of primary or post-primary school, and helps them adjust to social, community, and occupational life. It cares for maladjusted dropouts aged 12-15, including some in need of special education. Clients include roving youth, delinquents, and youth at risk of criminal delinquency. The major activity setting is the miftan (pl. miftanim), a community-based day institution for rehabilitation and therapy. Some 1,750 youth attend 33 miftanim throughout the country.
The Women's Service identifies and assists socially disadvantaged teen and adult women. Its services include a vocational-training project for young women approaching army induction. The Service cares for women aged 13-22 who show first indications of neglect, disturbance, or social deterioration, as well as battered women and rape victims. Neglected young women are cared for by 150 special "women in distress" social workers, themselves women, employed by the local authorities' social-service departments. The Service runs 37 therapeutic centers and two pre-induction groups under Women's Corps auspices, focusing on social rehabilitation and vocational training. Some 200 clients receive special pre-induction "booster" services. Three thousand young women who exhibit signs of neglect or emotional disturbance receive professional treatment. Four battered women's shelters accommodate and care for 700 women and 1,000 children, who are subsequently sheltered in 12 halfway houses. Five rape crisis centers provide immediate assistance (including a companion during police procedures), information, and treatment for 600 women per year. The service for battered women, in cooperation with WIZO and the Legal Bureaus, started up additional telephone hotlines during the year under review.
The Youth and Young Adults' Treatment Service identifies youth and young adults (13-25) suffering from varying degrees of social alienation and instills motivation to improve self-esteem and abandon anti-social behavior patterns. The Service cares for clients who either fail to function or have trouble functioning in social, educational, or vocational settings. Some 5,000 clients are served by 162 caseworkers employed by 68 local-authority social-service departments. Over one third of these caseworkers are paid by Project Renewal. The Service develops innovative working methods and projects meant to accommodate clients in community settings.
The Youth Probation Service provides the courts with diagnostic services and recommendations, influences sentencing policy, carries out court-ordered probation and treatment, and interviews child victims of sexual molestation (up to age 14) in order to prevent recurrence. Among the laws and regulations that define the functions and powers of the probation officers, the most important is the Youth Law (Trial, Punishment, and Care) 5731-1971, coupled with regulations based thereon. These deal with minors (12-18) who are suspected or accused of criminal activities. The police, the courts, and the Attorney-General refer minors to the Service, which is run under court auspices by 164 probation officers throughout the country. Every minor accused of an offense by the police is referred to the Service before the onset of legal proceedings, and the Service may recommend to the police that a file be closed if it believes the case not to be in the public interest.
The Youth Protection Authority establishes and operates residences for youth (age 10-20) who have been referred to such settings by the courts, and provides them with educational, therapeutic, and rehabilitative services. The Authority's clients are removed from their homes by Juvenile Court order, under the Youth Law (Trial, Punishment, and Care) 5731-1971, or as a result of grave domestic distress that warrantsthis action under the Youth Law (Care and Supervision) 5720-1960. The Authority cares for 650 youngsters a year in 10 residential care centers and 16 hostels.
The Adult Probation Service provides the courts with diagnostic services and recommendations, influences sentencing policy, and supervises convicts' public service (when this is ordered as an alternative to incarceration). The Service's 130 probation officers are responsible for adult (18+) convicts who are referred to the Service by the courts.
The Drug Abuse Intervention Unit coordinates the treatment of substance abusers and develops treatment and prevention programs. Established by the Ministerial Committee on Social Affairs, the Unit coordinates the work of the ministerial and cross-institutional committees established with intent to mount a comprehensive assault on the drug problem, formulates uniform policy for all government ministries and agencies involved in the war on drugs, liaises among the relevant ministries, and implements recommendations of the aforementioned ministerial committee. Members of the Unit sit on local committees charged with planning an integrative approach to anti-drug services, and take part in drug prevention, information, rehabilitation, and care programs, in concert with the local authorities and Project Renewal. The Ministry assigns high priority to the war on drugs. The Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority is a State-owned enterprise subordinate to the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs and a council appointed by President under the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority Law 5743-1983. The Authority's functions include formulating rehabilitation policy for prisoners and special population groups; preparing rehabilitation programs for prisoners on the verge of release in conjunction with the Prison Service; implementing these programs in coordination with the Adult Probation Service; reintegrating and rehabilitating former prisoners in the community, including employment, vocational training, income maintenance, equipment, and health services; sponsoring the establishment and development of auxiliary services for prisoner rehabilitation, including guidance and counseling; assistance for prisoners' families during and after prison terms, through local authorities' social-service departments and other agencies; coordinating the prisoner-rehabilitation activities of government ministries, local authorities, and other agencies; promoting, guiding, and directing voluntary prisoner rehabilitation work by individuals and groups; proposing legislation and sponsoring research in the Authority's areas of activity; and increasing public awareness of the prisoner rehabilitation problem. The Authority begins to provide service 90 days before a prisoner's discharge and continues to do so for one year, after which an ex-prisoner's status is the same as that of any citizen in need of assistance.
Immigrants' Social Services: The Ministry's social services must make sweeping professional, organizational, and budgetary preparations in order to intervene in a way that meets immigrants' needs on the personal, family, and community levels, and in order to cope with the impact on the host society of immigrant absorption on so large a scale. Even today there are groups of immigrants whose needs are not being met, and the Ministry, through the local authorities' social-service departments, has to provide solutions.
Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry and Israel Government Year Book