Israel Work Culture
To succeed in business in Israel, it is vital for both employers and employees to have a strong understanding of the business culture.
Israel’s renowned ‘Start-up’ economy is making the nation an increasingly strong magnet for international investment and attracting top of the range talent to fill key roles, particularly in the leading fields of hi-tech, medical, and healthcare sectors.
Adding to the attractions is Israel’s ranking as the second ‘freest economy’ in the Middle East and North African region – beaten only by the United Arab Emirates. Israel’s location on the Mediterranean’s eastern coast, in the southwest corner of Asia with proximity to African markets, makes it an ideal launch pad for further global expansion.
A well-educated and highly motivated workforce is at the heart of Israel’s economic growth. An often-laid-back atmosphere in the business environment nevertheless exists alongside a driven attitude which can accelerate towards urgently ‘getting the job done’. Cooperation is encouraged between staff and an often loosely structured hierarchy to achieve results.
To start with, here are a few tips on taking the right steps and avoiding the pitfalls!
- Language: Hebrew is the national language, but the business lingo is English. Make a good impression by learning some basic phrases and the correct pronunciation of your opposite number’s Hebrew name.
- Business Environment: Conducting business is relationship-oriented and networking outside of the office or boardroom is important. Colleagues and business contacts often develop friendships.
- Meetings: Agendas tend to be flexible, and deadlines can drift. Adaptability will play an important role in the relationship. Do not be surprised if counterparts answer their mobiles during the meeting.
- Negotiations: Israelis are determined negotiators – but do not confuse Israelis being direct and honest with arrogance.
- Punctuality: Being on time is valued, if not always reciprocated. It is always best to make the effort.
- Greetings: Best to stay polite and formal with titles and surnames, until the hosts initiate first-name terms. Shaking hands is the usual greeting but if meeting a religious individual remember not to shake hands with a member of the other sex.
- Dress Code: Office attire is typically ‘business casual’, but foreigners are best to dress formally for initial meetings.
- Business Dining: Israelis often eat late so be ready for ‘apres business’ night life. But if organizing the meal, be aware of dietary restrictions due to religious beliefs.
- Behavior: Although Israelis generally are not precious about personal space, religious individuals may avoid physical proximity and rely on eye contact.
Israel Minimum Wage
The Minimum wage is the lowest salary or wage that an employee can be paid for their work. In 2021, the minimum is ILS 5,300 (€1,497, US$1,680) per month or an hourly rate of ILS 29 (€8.20, US$9.20), with planned increments until 2025.
In November 2021, the Finance Ministry, Bank of Israel, Israel’s National Trade Union (Histadrut) and the Manufacturers’ Association announced a monthly minimum of ILS 5,400 (€1,525, US$1,713) for 2022 rising to ILS 6,000 (€1,696, US$1,903) by December 2025.
Probation Periods in Israel
Probationary or trial periods are not mandatory in Israel but are permitted by law. The worker should still be considered and treated as any full-time employee with regards to salary and employment rights and probationary periods, generally between one and 12 months, can be written into the employment contract along with notice period.
If the employee is dismissed unfairly, compensation of between one- and two-months’ salary can be awarded.
Working Hours in Israel
Normal hours total 42 over a working week from Sunday till Thursday, with four days at 8.6 hours and the remaining day for 7.6 hours. Employees on a six-day week work four days at eight hours, one seven-hour day and three on a Friday.
Approved collective agreements can allow four nine-hour days (including a 45-minute break) and one eight-hour day; but they cannot exceed 10 hours per day, including breaks, or 45 a week.
According to the Hours of Work and Rest Law, after six hours’ work there should be an unpaid meal break of 45 minutes including at least 30 minutes unbroken rest. Employees may take time to pray in accordance with religious requirements. In a break of more than 30 minutes an employee may leave the place of work.
Daily rest must be at least eight hours between workdays; weekly rest is generally not less than 36 continuous hours. If certain employment conditions, make this untenable then continuous rest must not be less than 25 hours.
Overtime in Israel
Employers are legally required to pay employees overtime when the hours exceed the ‘normal working hours. Employees receive 125% of their normal hourly rate for working the first two extra hours and 150% after that. Working on a Saturday or holiday employees are entitled to 150% of the usual hourly rate plus a vacation day. Employees can work up to 12 hours a day and up to 16 hours overtime a week; more than this is illegal. Overtime should be agreed between both parties.