Revisiting CEDAW's Recommendations: Has anything changed for migrant workers in Israel in the last two years?
Research reports, working paper
the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. At that time, Israel marked 20 years of membership in the Convention.
However, previous to 2011, issues pertaining to migrant women have not been considered by the Committee, and were largely ignored in Israel's periodic reports. The Committee's concluding observations for Israel during its 48th session included, for the first time, specific recommendations relating to women migrant workers. This was largely the result of Kav LaOved's advocacy; Kav LaOved staff presented before the Committee, describing in detail the myriad forms of discrimination migrant women face in the Israeli labour market and the multi-layered abuse and exploitation that they suffer at the hands of employers, placement agencies and the State. Having considered Israel's report and the information provided by Kav LaOved, the Committee concluded as follows:
The Committee expresses its particular concern at the disadvantaged situation of female migrant workers in the country. In this respect, the Committee is concerned at the difficult working conditions of female migrant workers, who are employed primarily as in-home caregivers, and that they work on a round-the-clock basis with mandatory live-in arrangements. The Committee also notes with concern the 2009 Supreme Court decision in the matter of Yolanda Gloten vs. the National Labour Court, which held that migrant home caregivers are excluded from the Hours of Work and Rest Law, which provides basic labour law protections to workers in the State party generally.
Furthermore, the Committee is seriously concerned at the State party’s existing policy that migrant workers who give birth must leave the State party with their babies within three months of giving birth or send their babies out of the State party's borders so as to safeguard their work permits. The Committee is equally concerned that marriage and intimate relationships between migrant workers under an existing State party policy constitute grounds to revoke the couple's work permits.
The Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Extend and enforce all labour law protections, including health and safety standards, for all female migrant workers, including migrant home-care workers, ensure their access to legal remedies, and allow them to negotiate freely with their employer whether to reside in the employer's household or not;
(b) Revoke its policies with regard to cancellation of work permits for migrant workers in cases of childbirth, marriage and intimate relationships, in accordance with the State party's obligations under the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation No. 26 on women migrant workers.
The purpose of this report is to examine if and to what extent these recommendations have taken effect in the two years since the report, and how, if at all, the situation of migrant women improved for the better as a result. As we will see, while some progress was achieved in certain areas, much of the Committee's observations did not inform or impact policy choices made by key state actors with respect to migrant women. In light of this, Kav LaOved calls the Israeli government to implement in full the Committee's recommendations, and to afford migrant women equal rights in all spheres related to their residency and employment in Israel.