Nurses and doctors are furious that they are losing money from paychecks if they encounter the coronavirus in the line of duty and end up having to self-quarantine. Thousands of health professionals saw a decrease in their latest salary payments, because time spent in compulsory quarantine after coming into contact with an infected person was treated as sick days, which are accounted at a reduced rate of pay.
Anger reached a new high after Ephraim Malkin, a senior Finance Ministry official, called health workers’ demands for full pay when quarantined “excessive and unbalanced” in a meeting last Monday, April 20, of the Knesset’s Special Committee on Welfare and Labor Affairs.
Malkin, first deputy head of Wages and Labor in the Finance Ministry, said that health employees who are in quarantine still receive 80% to 90% of their salaries. But the health workers unions, the Israeli Medical Association the and Israeli Nurses Organization insist that as exposure takes place in the line of duty there should be no financial loss, nor should time in isolation come out of their allowance of sick days, which they may need if they or their children are unwell.
Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), chair of the Welfare and Labor Affairs Committee, rejected the position of the Finance Ministry, saying “The medical workers who are obligated to enter quarantine did not choose to sit at home and not go to work. A large part of them invests hours in consultations, even while in quarantine.” Touma-Sliman continued: “The salaries of Knesset members and ministers who enter quarantine are not harmed, but the doctors’ and nurses salaries are. We must give them all the support, including financial support, as they treat us, our parents and our children.” MK Ahmad Tibi (Ta’al – Joint List), a medical doctor, said that the policy reflects “ungratefulness on the part of the state.” According to the Israeli Medical Association, “Exposure to the coronavirus has become part of their job and they shouldn’t have to pay for it out of their wages.”