Israel: Raising Women's Retirement Age Postponed

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By Matthew Kalman

The Israeli Knesset (parliament) voted July 24 not to raise the retirement age for women until at least February 2018. Under the country’s retirement law, last amended in 2016, the retirement age was to have risen this year from 62 to 64 for women born after December 1958, but the change was postponed out of concern for older women unable to find work and ineligible for welfare payments.

Neither the Knesset Finance Committee nor a Finance Ministry committee set up by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon offered recommendations on when the change should be implemented.

“There is no agreement,” Kahlon’s spokesman Omri Harus said by phone. “The discussion is still continuing.”

Under the law passed July 24, Kahlon must submit his recommendations by November, giving the Finance Committee three months to agree on the implementation.

‘Significantly Lower'

“Not raising the retirement age for women is unsustainable and will likely have significant adverse effects on the economy and on elderly women retiring on pension,” State Comptroller Joseph Shapira wrote in a report published in October 2016 that criticized Kahlon for failing to implement the law, which Shapira said was “liable to perpetuate economic disparities and inequalities between men and women” and “perpetuate the high poverty rates among elderly women compared to elderly men.”

Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug has long argued that extending women’s careers would reduce poverty among the elderly and increase the value of pensions.

Even after the retirement age rises to 64, “it will still be significantly lower than in most European countries,” Flug said in a 2015 speech. “The large gap between men and women in Israel is prominent, and it raises a question regarding women’s ability to save sufficiently for retirement. The longer a decision to raise the retirement age for women further is delayed, the more necessary it will be later on to do so more rapidly and with greater problems.”

Ksenia Svetlova, a legislator for the opposition Zionist Union party, said Israel would eventually have to raise the retirement age for both men and women as people live longer, but it should not be done before a welfare “safety net” is in place for those affected by the change.

“We voted to postpone the raising of the women’s retirement age until there is a safety net,” Svetlova said by phone. “It’s very hard for them to find employment. The retirement age is going up, but I’m still not sure what safety net the government is offering these women, how they will ensure they won’t starve to death.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Kalman in Jerusalem at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

For more information on Israeli HR law and regulation, see the Israel primer.

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