Permits and payments and pensions, oh my!

The process of hiring a foreign caregiver can be daunting. Here is what you need to know:

Permit

To hire a foreign caregiver, you will need to obtain a Permit (“heiter hasaka”) from the Israel Ministry of Population and Immigration. Permits are granted only to Individuals living in the community (i.e., their own home or independent living facilities referred to as “diyur moogan”) who require full-time care or supervision and who meet certain eligibility requirements. Notably, eligibility is not related to income (unlike eligibility for the Bituach Leumi long-term care subsidy, “gimlat siyud”, which is based on both dependency and income).

Permit applications may be submitted either through a registered placement office known as a “tagid; or on your own through the Israeli Government Portal.

Finding Caregiver Candidates

Demand for foreign caregivers is high, so it can be challenging to find the right person. The first step is to contact a tagid, i.e., a personnel or placement agency, or even several. The tagid will send candidates from its database of caregivers who are in Israel or can also bring someone from abroad. The tagid can also help with applying for the permit if you haven’t done so already.

There are also several online platforms like isavta.co.il where, for a nominal fee, you can search their foreign caregiver database or post an ad. Just keep in mind that candidates in Israel are not vetted, so one should be thorough in checking visa status, references, etc.

Finally, spread the word! Post in your local Facebook community that you are looking or join a foreign caregiver Facebook group (there are a few).  If you have friends or family who employ a foreign caregiver, ask them to ask the caregiver to spread the word in their communities.

Choosing the Right Person

The interview process is a little like a matchmaking service – asking the right questions in the interview will increase the odds of a good fit. It can be awkward at first and sometimes caregivers are quite nervous when meeting a new family. It is a good idea to take a few minutes at the beginning just to “break the ice.”

Once things are a bit more relaxed, go into specific questions to understand their skill set and experience and to get a sense of how they would react to different situations. Be honest about challenges of the position but stress the positive aspects of the position as well.

Finally, articulating expectations is critical to ensuring a good match on both sides. Among the things you will want to discuss are compensation, rest time, days off and relievers, vacations abroad, meals and food preferences, housework, and guests.

Important! Always, always check references! If the caregiver comes with a written letter from a past employer, still call the employer to hear more about his/her experience.     

For more guidance, check out our blog post: Hiring a Foreign Caregiver? Here are Some Tips for Hiring the Right Person

Hiring a Caregiver

All foreign caregivers and employers must be registered with a tagid throughout the employment period. You are free to work with whatever tagid you choose. The tagid will be responsible for brokering the employment relationship including applying for/renewing a visa, negotiating the terms of the employment agreement, securing health insurance and the like. The tagid is also obligated to make periodic home visits and help resolve any issues that arise between the employer and his/her caregiver.

For its services, the tagid charges a registration fee of ILS 2,000 plus a fee of ILS 70 per month. These fees will apply whether you hired someone from the tagid’s database or found someone on your own.

Keep in Mind: A nursing care agency (chevrat siyud) is not the same as a tagid! Nursing care agencies work with individuals receiving a long-term care benefit from Bituach Leumi (gimlat siyud), colloquially referred to as Bituach Leumi “hours”. The nursing care agency serves to connect finances between Bituach Leumi and the caregiver: your Bituach Leumi benefit is deposited directly with the agency and the agency in turn pays a part of the caregiver’s salary and benefits, provides a monthly payslip (“tlush”) and in general stays in touch with the family regarding issues with the caregiver. The agency’s fee for its services is deducted directly from the Bituach Leumi payment.

You are not required to work with a nursing care agency! Bituach Leumi gives you the option of receiving the gimlat siyud benefit in hours via an agency or directly as a cash benefit.

Employing a Foreign Caregiver

Hiring a live-in foreign caregiver means becoming an employer under Israeli law, meaning you will need to obtain the required permits and abide by certain employment laws. You will find detailed information on foreign caregiver compensation on our blog post: Confused About How to Budget for a Live-In Foreign Caregiver? Here are the Nuts and Bolts. Here are some of the main things to be aware of:

Housing 

You must provide the foreign caregiver reasonable housing arrangements with appropriate privacy and personal space. A social worker on behalf of the tagid is obligated to examine the living arrangement to determine suitability.

Compensation

Like any employment relationship, salary is negotiated between the employer and the caregiver and will factor in the availability of caregivers in the market, the caregiver’s experience, the needs of the employer, if the employer is living alone or with a spouse/partner, the location of the employer etc. The base salary (including a weekly cash advance, typically ILS 100/week, referred to as “pocket money”), however, must be at least equivalent to the Israeli minimum wage. As of 1 April 2023, the Israeli minimum wage is ILS 5572/month.

In addition, like all Israeli employees, foreign caregivers are entitled to social benefits including:

  • Pension & Severance
  • D’mei Havra’ah (Convalescence Pay)
  • Paid Holidays
  • Paid Vacation
  • Sick Days

Medical Insurance

It is mandatory to purchase health insurance on the caregiver’s behalf. Depending on the insurance provider, the cost ranges from NIS 6.5 to NIS 7.65 per day.

Food Allowance

Employers are obligated to provide caregivers with three meals a day. Most caregivers prefer to receive a “food allowance” of ILS  200/week to purchase their own food. 

Bituach Leumi

Every employer must make Bituach Leumi payments for its foreign caregiver in an amount equal to 2% of the caregiver’s total wages (base salary including pocket money, plus payment for work on rest days and holidays). If you receive hours from Bituach Leumi and are employing a caregiver through a nursing care agency, then you must pay 2% on your portion of the wages, i.e., the amount you personally pay to the caregiver each month.

Deductions

From the caregiver’s Base Salary, you may deduct a certain amount for room and board, water, electricity and health insurance and pocket money. The amount of the deduction is set by regulation and varies according to place of residence, and whether the employer rents or owns. Whether these expenses are deducted from the caregiver salary is typically a matter of salary negotiation.

Dismissal Compensation

If the caregiver’s employment is terminated by the employer, or if the employer passes away or moves to a nursing home, the caregiver is entitled to compensation of one month’s salary for every year s/he worked (8.33% of Base Salary). A caregiver who resigns is entitled to the severance portion of his pension deposits only. 

Notice

If caregiver’s employment is terminated by the employer without notice, or if the employer passes away or moves to a nursing home, the caregiver is entitled to a final payment as follows: for the first 6 months of employment, 1 day for each month; for the 7th month and up to a year of employment, + 2.5 days for each additional month; after 1 year- one full month.

All in all, we recommend budgeting between ILS 9,200 to 10,000 per month to cover all costs and expenses.  Here is the breakdown, in a nutshell:

Base Salary (incl. pocket money)₪5,572per month
Food money₪200per week
Payment for work on rest day/holiday₪380per day
Bituach Leumi2%of base salary + work on rest day
Health Insurance₪225Approx
   
TO RESERVE  
Payment for work on holiday₪3809 days per year
Payment for unused vacation₪22314 days per year (Year 1)
Recuperation Pay₪3785 days per year (Year 1)
Sick Days₪2231.5 days per year
Pension6.50%of base salary (begins after 6 months)
Severance6%of base salary
Dismissal Compensation2.33%of base salary

For practical, up to date information on aging in Israel visit us on Facebook or join us in our Sandwich Generation Israel Facebook group, a safe and private forum for English speakers to seek information and advice, or just to vent and get support.