Vice-PM plans Sunday as day of rest in Israel

By Nathan Jeffay, May 19, 2011
Initiative: Shalom

Initiative: Shalom

Israel will soon adopt a Western-style five-day working week, if a proposal by Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom garners support.

Several weeks ago, Mr Shalom released plans to change Sunday from a working day to a rest day. In recent days he has persuaded trade unions and professional leaders in various sectors, including education, manufacturing and banking, to form committees to consider the merits of his plan.

"It's going to change Israel into a more normal country," he said.

His argument is that the current situation, whereby many Israelis have Friday off, does not serve the nation. This is because, he says, children are at school, meaning it is not a family day, and it is often dominated by Sabbath preparations. "It will strengthen family life, tourism and make for a more relaxed nation," he said.

Currently, Israeli businesses close on Friday, but when Israel is at work on Sunday, firms abroad are shut, "meaning we only share around half the week as working time". He wants to lengthen working hours during the week, so that even with early finishing on Friday, it will remain the same length.

If there is consensus in favour of the plan, Mr Shalom wants to effect the change by without enacting a law, rather by altering working contracts.

Last updated: 2:34pm, May 19 2011