Israel to bring in thousands of foreign caregivers for disabled people

Science and Health

Israel has agreed on a deal to officially recognize caregivers of people with disabilities as a profession holding a “special status,” which includes a wage hike, bonuses and training courses totaling up to NIS 330 million.

The deal, agreed between the Finance and Welfare and Social Affairs ministries with relevant Israeli organizations, will affect tens of thousands of caregivers, a finance ministry statement said.

As part of the deal, thousands of foreign workers will be brought in to address the lack of manpower in the field, the ministry added.

The agreement follows months of negotiations between the ministries and the organizations aimed  at achieving a resolution prior to the beginning of the new school year on September 1.

More than 20% of Israeli adults provide care without pay, study finds

A study published by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel in May found that more than one out of five Israeli adults provide care without financial compensation for their relatives and others who suffer from disabilities – and some take care of more than one person.

The study showed that many Israeli caregivers invest at least 10 hours per week. “While the majority of caregivers said that their work was not harmed by the time spent caregiving, the responsibilities of caregiving (family members) nonetheless they have an impact on many aspects of life such as career and interpersonal relationships,” the study’s researcher noted.

Tel Aviv – among the world’s most wheelchair-friendly cities (credit: BARAK BRINKER/TEL AVIV-YAFO MUNICIPALITY)

Israeli officials: Agreement is a crucial ‘milestone, breakthrough’

“This deal is a crucial milestone for the recognition we are required to give as a society toward people with disabilities,” Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said at the conclusion of the deal led by his deputy at the ministry and fellow faction member Michal Woldiger.

“Those who work with the disabled community are today getting a major boost,” Woldiger said in a video statement. “We are upgrading their salaries and giving them a special status…the caregivers need stability and this agreement will keep them in this field,” she added.

Deputy Finance Minister Michal Woldiger speaks on an agreement for cargivers of people with disablities on August 31, 2023 (FINANCE MINISTRY)

“This is an excellent, far-reaching program and I am glad our efforts bore fruit,” Woldiger summarized. Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Ya’acov Mergi noted that the deal is a “serious breakthrough after many years.”