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Shabbat Parashat Tezaveh 5782

P'ninat Mishpat: Making Up for Unpaid Employment Benefits part I

(based on ruling 79137 of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts)

Case: The defendant (=def) is an NPO that runs various educational institutions, including the one that the plaintiff (=pl) started to head in 5769. Soon after pl started, def ran into financial difficulties, and in a meeting of heads of def’s programs, many heads agreed to cuts in salary to keep institutions open. Pl is now, after a few years, suing for the following matters: 1. The reduction in salary, which they forced on pl. 2. D’mei havra’ah (recreational payment) for 3 years, part of which def agrees to. 3. Loss of special rights that pl had with a pension fund, which he lost when def delayed payment to the fund, as promised and despite warning. 4. Def promised pl he would receive a percentage of the fundraising sums he raised on trips abroad, which they did not give him (22,868 NIS). Def’s specific claims we will see next to each subject raised, but two general claims were: statute of limitations and mechila (relinquishing rights). 

 

Ruling: Reduction in salaryPl claims he never agreed to the reduction but was just informed about it and continued to work out of a sense of responsibility to the students in his program and because he could not return to his old job. Def claims that at the meeting, people were given the choice between a reduction and having their programs cut, which was a necessity under the sudden need for austerity. First of all, since pl had an open-ended contract, this is not binding in the educational field for more than a year, so that when pl continued beyond a year without getting a promise to restore the full salary, he accepted the reduction. Furthermore, since under the situation of duress that arose, pl had the right to close the programs and not pay salary, they were exempt for paying the former, full salary. Finally, the fact that pl regularly complained about the other claims and not this one is a sign that he was mochel this reduction.  

D’mei havra’ah – the number of recreational days a worker is entitled to depends on the degree of his employment. Until 2011, pl’s pay stub referred to him as having a 100% (full-time) job. From then on, he was referred to as 65% (120 monthly hours). According to pl, in the field of education, 120 hours is a full-time job. Beit din does not accept that pl needs to have the same conditions of an employee of the educational system, as he is not such a worker. It is also not clear if the 120 hours include preparation time (which it would not for a regular teacher). Based on the lack of clarity, we will rule based on compromise that for pl’s first two years, he will be credited for having worked a 76% position and for the third year, 65% (as was written that year in his stub). That entitles him to seventeen recreational days during the three years, which, according to the relevant employment bureau, is redeemable for 4,475 NIS.

We will continue next time with other elements of the dispute.

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