Demanding the Amendment of the Pension Insurance Agreement to Extend its Application to All Workers Over the Age of 18

HCJ 6849/08 Adalah and ADVA v. The Histadrut National Federation of Labor Unions, et. al.

Under the present agreement, a man would lose 332,000 shekels at retirement and a woman 174,000 shekels

On 4 August 2008, Adalah petitioned the Supreme Court on behalf of the Adva Center and in its own name, demanding that the court order the Minister of Industry to amend the Pension Insurance Agreement, ratified in November 2007, to extend its application to all workers over 18 years old. The current agreement excludes young men under the age of 21 and women under the age of 20. Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher filed the petition.

The agreement, which was signed between the Histadrut National Federation of Labor Unions and the Economic Institutions Coordination Office, forces employers to pay pension insurance for each employee who does not have other pension insurance. This comprehensive insurance includes pension insurance as well as insurance in case the worker loses his or her ability to work or develops a physical disability. Crucially, however, the agreement excludes male workers under the age of 21 and female workers under the age of 20.

The Histadrut, the Economic Institutions Coordination Office and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor have claimed that the exclusion of males under 21 and females under 20 is due to the fact that the average age at which young men and women join the labor market is over 18 years. In the petition, Adalah argued that this claim has no evidential base. Moreover, Israeli law prohibits discrimination against a particular group because the age at which this group is integrated into the labor market does not equal the average age of integration.

Statistics issued by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics data indicates that in 2006, 38.5% of Arabs were integrated into the labor at between 18 and 24 years of age. As a result, the agreement discriminates against the Arab minority in Israel on the basis of their national belonging. Adalah stressed that the members of the Arab minority is exempted from and usually do not perform military service, and that those who do not pursue further education therefore join the labor force from the age of 18, unlike their Jewish counterparts.

With the petition, Adalah submitted an expert opinion by economic specialist Amir Zoubi, on the inequality that results from the selective enforcement of the Pension Insurance Agreement. In his expert opinion, Zoubi states that the economic loss incurred by each male worker amounts to 332,000 shekels upon retirement, and 14,508 shekels in case of loss if the ability to work. For women, the loss incurred reaches 174,000 shekels upon retirement, and 9,672 shekels in case of loss of ability to work.

The petitioners further argued that the selective enforcement of the Pension Insurance Agreement also discriminates on the basis of gender, given that there is no relationship between the age groups excluded from the agreement (men under the age of 21 and women under the age of 20) and the nature of the work or the employee’s characteristics and abilities.

Attorney Zaher stressed that this discrimination on the basis of age, gender and nationality is contrary to the Equal Employment Opportunities Law – 1988, as does the discrimination entailed in relation to conditions of retirement. Israel’s labor laws oblige employers to pay social allowances to each employee regardless of his or her age. The only law that relates to the age of the employee is the Youth Employment Law – 1953, which was enacted in order to prevent employers from exploiting minor workers under 18 and over 15 years of age.

The Petition (Hebrew)