Slavery in Your Salon

Do you have a cleaner or other household employees?

If so, let's call her Miriam.

When did Miriam last have paid vacation days or paid sick leave?

What will Miriam do when she reaches pension age?

If Miriam gets sacked, will she receive full compensation/pitzuim?

If Miriam is injured at work, will she be compensated?

If Miriam is abused by her employer, can she protect herself?

Miriam is not just "the cleaner", Miriam is your employee and has rights - no less than your own.

And you have an obligation to give Miriam everything she is entitled to.

Both legally and morally.

Chances are, you've never thought about Miriam in this light....

So here's some of your obligations:

1. To pay Miriam's bituach leumi (National Insurance)
2. To pay towards Miriam's Pension & Pitzuim Fund (law in Israel, as of 1st January 2008)
3. Pay Miriam full pitzuim if you ask her to leave (generally one month's salary for each year worked)
4. Give Miriam paid vacation (according to the law) & sick days (against doctor's note)

There's a lot more besides, for example see
for hourly workers rights:
for new laws regarding pensions:

Slavery was officially abolished a century ago. For goodness sake, let's now get it out of our homes!


  1. The blog looks great! And this first article (literally) hits home... I'll be actively looking into how to improve my home-help's terms.

  2. Way to Go! Yeshar koach David! I look forward to following this blog!

  3. I'm proud to know you! YOU have the spirit AND the letter of the law in your heart.


  4. While this mught be "legal" - it is not practical. How about some practical advice, please?

    Also, why cant you make her an independant contracter like they do in America, and then you dont have to pay any of her taxes, and actually ou can really mess her over, cuz she would have to pay the full amount? So if you want to get legal, Im not sure thats a good idea.

    How about we focus on the halachos of hired help - paying on time, not opressing, offering food, etc

  5. Anonymous:

    A. "How about some practical advice, please?"
    It's a good idea and I'll put together some practical instruction asap.
    As regards Bituach Leumi/National Insurance, I asked my wife, who deals with this for our cleaning lady (Alona):
    1. Call up Bituach Leumi, and ask them to send you a pinkas.
    2. They will send you this in the mail.
    3. You fill this up with your cleaner (needs her ID no. etc)
    4. Once every six months, you go to the post office, and pay the BL.
    Presto - she's covered for National Insurance!
    B. "...independent contractor"
    The issue of Income Tax is Separate from BL. (ie she won't get hit for income tax as a result of doing the BL only).
    At your cleaner's income level, her income tax should be very low. Indeed from 2007 there is now 'negative income tax' in Israel for some low income earners (effectively a grant).

    In my experience with helping small businesses (which includes home help), going legal is more advantageous than working in the 'black market'. Aside from the legal and ethical advantages...

    C. "halachos of hired help": interesting idea. I'll see if I can find some material - or perhaps someone would like to write a short article for this blog on that topic?

    Many thanks for this constructive feedback...keep it coming!

  6. It was suggested that the picture of the cleaning lady I used, may be offensive to some - not tzanua enough.
    In light of that suggestion, I've changed the picture.
    Guys & Gals - What do you think this blog's policy should be regarding pictures of women?

  7. DM - "going legal is more advantageous than working in the 'black market'. Aside from the legal and ethical advantages..."

    Why is that? Aside from "legal and ethical advantages" ??

  8. One example would be that you support the national economy overall by going legal.

  9. Anonymous Asked: "DM: going legal is more advantageous than working in the 'black market'. ..." Why is that? Aside from "legal and ethical advantages"

    1. Business run on an illegal basis (or nicer put "outside of the legal structure" "informal" whatever) inevitably gets into a pickle because the economics of the "business" are false and the route to growth is blocked.

    For example, income is not declared, so income tax isn't paid (doesn't sound like a DISadvantage, right?) but on the other hand, expenses are incurred, but cannot be deducted from income. So you have a business which on paper has no income, no expenses.

    Day one, you sell something for $2. Yippee! $2 profit! That's $2 net income for me (the business 'owner')! And that's $2 spending money for the makolet...



    Two years later, business is doing nicely. $50,000 income. No expenses. No tax. $50,000 net profit. Success!!



    There are expenses, and there are liabilities...increasingly so. Just you've avoided paying them, but you've now handed over the fictitious profits to the makolet.

    Judgement day will come, when the taxman calls, when the suppliers call in their payments... And because the 'business owner' doesn't formally exist, he doesn't have a foot to stand on to claim these debts aren't due. (Which they are!).

    One bankrupt business, one bankrupt person (it's the same).

    Quite aside from the prison sentence for tax evasion.

    2. Once a business can't give receipts, only other illegal/informal businesses will deal with it.

    a. This limits the potential customers to only those willing to trade "black market".

    b. It also gives out a message that the business lacks basic integrity (trustworthiness) or stability (reliability).

    c. The business can only employ people who are willing to work black market.

    3. Because of the lack of formal paperwork (contracts, receipts, purchase orders etc) the "business" is wide open to either being Abusive (not giving others what is rightfully due) or being Abused (being denied what is rightfully due to the business).

    4. At the end of the day, macro, the obligations and rights of being a law abiding citizen are designed to equalise or at least fairly balance.

    Similarly, at a micro level,the guy who pays no income tax, also pays no Mas Briut (health tax), National Insurance, Pension Fund, etc..etc.. So his obligations are zero (actually they are accruing...) and his benefits/insurance etc are zero. It's a gamble he might well end up losing on.

    In fact, the system is designed to make sure that those who trade illegally DO LOSE on it, at least macro, at least long term. Similar system to the Casino, which, like the Government, always wins overall.

    Maybe this warrants an article...

  10. Sorry, I am confused. I wasnt asking for a business reason. I was asking why I should pay my cleaning worker "on the books" - aside from the legal and ethical advantages. You seemed to say there were, and I didnt know what you are talking about. I am not talking about opening a "real" business

  11. Anonymous: I was asking why I should pay my cleaning worker "on the books"

    Hi Anonymous - sorry - I DID misunderstand your comment. My apologies (too many late nights...)

    IMHO, some of the reasons one should pay a cleaning lady "on the books":

    1. If she falls or hurts herself, neither she nor you are protected from liability.

    2. One should give her (paid) holiday days as required by law, also because to work her into the ground (zero vacation) is unlikely to give you a motivated, healthy worker in the long term. Why do you expect your boos to give you vacation days - beyond the fact that he's required to by law?

    3. Paid Sick Days - similar story. If she turns up to work when she should be taking sick leave, then this is clearly a health risk to her, and not a smart thing for an employer to do either (ditto previous - why do you expect your boss to give you sick days off, beyond the fact it's legally required??).

    4. Pitzuim/Severance Pay: Aside from the moral and legal also enhances a relationship of mutual loyalty. It avoids a avoid a cut-and-run-zero-trust relationship which is good for no-one.

    She's worked for you for 10 years, and she's ALSO earned 10 months (or equivalent) of severance pay. That's a sign of a mutually beneficial, mutual trust relationship you ought to strive for with your employees. As your employer, I'm confident, strives for with you.

    Beyond this, the ABC's of the legal and moral requirements, that have formed the backbone of all labor protection legislation in the industrialised free world, over the past 100 years and more, MUST apply also to your employees in your own home.

    At the moment, as a generalisation, it is overlooked by the majority of employers of home help.

    Time to change that avla - at least in Ramat Bet Shemesh!!

  12. The big problem is that Miriam doesn't want to be paid legally, since she is typically claiming unemployment benefits from Bituach Leumi...

  13. Muon:"Miriam doesn't want to be paid legally"

    Have you ever asked your cleaning lady, having clearly explained the benefits to her of (for example) having National Insurance coverage?

    Note: Many people who are being exploited, give the appearance they are going-along with it, in full knowledge & willingly.
    Consider prostitution, beaten wives, sexually abused children...
    This doesn't mean this is actually the case, nor excuse the exploiters.


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