Decent Work and Economic Growth
Kav LaOved – Cares for Caregivers
In Israel today there are approximately 60,000 caregivers employed, of which 80% are woman. These caregivers were actually sought out by the State of Israel and caregivers were given permits on arrival. The idea was a mutually beneficial deal, the elderly greatly need care and there was not enough local employment in that field. However, estimate of about 10,000 of these caregivers do not have a permit today. A core issue is the exploitation and violation of their labour rights and safety. Indeed, one caregiver admits, “When you start working, you forget about the rights. The only thing you care, is to become a part of the family.” At the forefront of publicizing workers’ rights is the Israeli organisation ‘Kav LaOved.’
Every year, around one hundred companies recruit 5,000 caregivers and being a cash-orientated sector, approximately 160 Million Shekels go unreported. Caregivers are frequently withheld the first two years of their salary; brokers accumulate debt to their workers which can prompt a situation of exploitation commonly known as debt bondage. A bi-product of fear is generated as workers won’t risk leaving lest they go unpaid. Incidents of severe exploitation or even physical harm are not unheard of. Other issues manifest themselves in language, “I said I don’t speak English, so he (the employer) started to scream at me, how is it possible!? He threatened to send me back to Ukraine.”
Kav LaOved have specialised in helping caregivers by working hard to develop policies in Israel. In December 2012 an act for the replacement visa was established. The visa permits caregivers living in Israel to work during the period of 51 months to their mandated time for departure at 63 months. In February that year, Kav LaOved handled a case in the Jerusalem District Court where a married couple were convicted of holding a female Filipino employee in their home under slavery conditions. Including countless other examples of their involvement in policy change, on a day-to-day level information is easily accessible for caregivers. Whether on their website, through their hotline or on social media they can stay informed and understand their rights. Of course, over all this information is available in over seven languages.
Established in 1991, Kav LaOved was predominately a non-profit, non-governmental hotline but has expanded far beyond this. They are committed to the defence of workers’ rights and the enforcement of Israeli labour law, irrespective of nationality, religion, gender and legal status. As part of their mission Kav LaOved acts in three main areas. Workers awareness, where employees can stay informed and empowered to defend their own labour rights. State Policy, where Kav LaOved attempt to create, amend and enforce legislation, improving employment terms and conditions. Finally, social responsibility whereby they influence Israeli culture and society to recognise the rights of disadvantaged workers.
Within these three crucial areas, Kav LaOved focus on specific groups of people and professions to ensure the highest standard of labour rights. Another cash intensive profession, cleaning service employees are at risk of exhaustion and harm. As well as public awareness and advocating for policy, Kav LaOved hosts and assists over 350 cleaning workers by giving them reception hours in their own office. In recent years a lot of emphasis on has be dedicated to Arab worker labour rights. At around 20% of the population, Kav LaOved opened a branch in Nazareth making their services more available to the said population. With broad violations of labour rights such as lack of payment for overtime, vacations and compensation Kav LaOved exposed 4,000 Arab workers to their rights, advanced woman rights in the secondary labour market, gave legal representation in labour court and much more.
In 2014, the organization served over 55,000 workers and secured more than 24 million Shekels in total withheld sums entitled to workers by law. With Kav LaOved on the case, the UN’s 2030 goal of promoting safe and secure working environments for all workers is becoming a reality.
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