A bill proposed by MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) which would extend Shabbat “day of rest” benefits passed an initial vote in the Knesset on Wednesday.
The proposal would protect all workers in Israel who choose not to work on Shabbat from losing their jobs, regardless of their level of religious observance.
In addition, the law would prohibit employers from using discriminatory hiring practices which target workers who refuse to work on Shabbat.
Currently, Israeli law only recognizes the rights of religious Jews to refuse work on Shabbat. Non-Jews and secular Jews may be forced by their employers to work on Shabbat, or face loss of employment.
If entered into law, Lavie’s bill would give all workers in Israel the same Shabbat “day of rest” rights, enabling anyone, regardless of religion or level of observance, to claim Shabbat as a religious day of rest.
Lavie argued that Shabbat is more than a matter of personal religious observance, but is an important part of Israeli cultural.
“Shabbat does not belong to religious Jews only,” said Lavie.
“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.”