Holiday Pay Rights – Non-Jewish Employees in Israel


In Israel, the entitlement to holiday pay is a benefit extended to all workers, but its application varies based on religious and cultural affiliations. This article explores the rights of non-Jewish employees regarding holiday pay in Israel, guided by the country’s legal framework.

Legal Framework

According to Section 18a of the Government and Legal Procedures Ordinance, 1948, Israel recognizes a list of official holidays. These include two days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the first and eighth days of Sukkot, the first and seventh days of Passover, and the Shavuot festival. Independence Day is also recognized as a national holiday by the Independence Day Law of 1949.

Section 9a of the Work Hours and Rest Law stipulates a work prohibition on these days. The same ordinance affirms that non-Jewish workers are entitled to observe rest days on their respective Sabbaths and religious holidays. These specific holidays are to be determined by each religious community and formalized by a government decision.

Holiday Pay Eligibility

Non-Jewish employees have the flexibility to choose which holidays they wish to observe—either the national (Jewish) holidays or their respective religious holidays. Whichever days they choose, the following rules apply:

  • If observing national holidays: They are entitled to holiday pay similar to their Jewish counterparts. Employment on these days is treated as if on their weekly rest day, entailing non-work unless an employment permit is granted, and higher compensation if work is conducted.
  • If observing their religious holidays: Employment on Israeli national holidays is regarded as regular workdays. These days do not require special employment permits, and pay is calculated at the regular wage rate. Holiday pay is granted only for the religious holidays they observe, not on Israeli national holidays.
Complex Cases

Issues arise when a non-Jewish employee chooses to observe their religious holidays but also does not work on Israeli national holidays due to personal choice or because the business is closed. Historically, the National Labor Court has ruled that Jewish holidays and Sabbaths are not considered annual leave for non-Jewish workers, as this rest is imposed without relation to their annual leave entitlement. However, employees are only entitled to holiday pay for one set of holidays they opt to observe. For any other set of holidays, an agreement between the employer and employee is required to treat these days as paid leave; otherwise, these are unpaid or worked with regular pay.

The regulation of holiday pay for non-Jewish workers in Israel exemplifies the country’s commitment to cultural diversity and religious respect within the workplace. Employers and employees are encouraged to maintain clear communication and mutual agreements to ensure that the rights and obligations related to holiday pay are understood and respected by all parties involved.



This information does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general guidance only. For specific cases, professional legal counsel should be sought.

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