Israel Chamber of Commerce proposes employer rights bill

Bill would prevent infringement on contracts, no retroactive taxation

JERUSALEM (Reuters) The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce on Tuesday proposed a bill aimed at protecting business owners and boosting economic growth.

Uriel Lynn, president of the organisation, said parliament, or Knesset, has enacted 157 laws in favour of employees at the expense of employers the past decade.

"The Knesset regards the business sector as the enemy but they tend to be the enemy of the business sector," Lynn, a former director of the state revenue at the finance ministry, told a news conference. "This is eroding business and killing the motivation to start a business in Israel."

Lynn said the various legislation, which includes labour laws and those to protect the environment, puts too much financial burden on some 463,000 small and mid-sized businesses most of which are owned by families who invested their own money.

He noted that the government has boosted corporate taxes to 25 per cent but Israel is a "paradise" for multinationals who pay just six per cent in taxes.

"It's another blow to the business sector," Lynn said. "The total load will eventually crush the business sector."

"What they are doing will not increase state income but decrease state income," he said of higher taxes on companies. "Income is a result of the scope of economic activity. If you shrink the level of economic activity, you have less taxes."

Israel's economic output soared 83 per cent to US$241 billion between 2001 and 2011, while gross domestic product per capita jumped by US$10,000 to US$31,000.

Lynn credits Benjamin Netanyahu, who was finance minister between 2003 and 2005, for much of the success due to his implementation of free market policies.

"When he became prime minister he started to ruin what he had achieved," he said, adding that the country is reverting back to socialism as the government responds to popular protests against high living costs. "Employers do not have any rights. This is not a passing trend but a trend that is entrenched and is gaining momentum."

The Basic Law: Employer Rights proposes to protect employers' rights including prevention of infringement on contracts, not being forced to employ workers against their will and no retroactive taxation.

The organisation has submitted the bill to three of Netanyahu's coalition partners the Kadima party, Yisrael Beiteinu and Azmaut and is seeking to enact the law in other countries

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