Israel's public sector wage bill balloons

payslip  picture: Tamar Matzapi

Wages in government ministries and the public health system have increased at a far higher rate than the general average wage in the past decade.

Senior medical specialists' salaries have soared 80% since the last wage agreement in 2011, making Israeli doctors among the highest-paid in the world and increasing the wage gaps between doctors, according to figures presented today by Ministry of Finance Wages Commissioner Kobi Bar-Natan in his salary report for 2017.

"Despite the interns' protest, the collective agreement did not narrow the wage gaps between doctors; on the contrary," Bar-Natan writes. According to the figures, interns' salaries have increased by an impressive 59% since 2011, but this is less than the increase in the salaries of hospital directors (63%), junior specialists (69%), and senior specialists (80%).

The relative pay of doctors in Israel is second highest in the developed countries. The average salary of specialists in Israel is 3.8 times the general average salary, a higher ratio than in any OECD country except for Luxembourg. The average gross salary of doctors in Israel, excluding interns, is currently NIS 36,489, followed by X-ray technicians (NIS 20,667), nurses (NIS 19,067), engineers (NIS 17,965), and administration and housekeeping employees on special contracts (NIS 16,464). The lowest salaries in the health system were for occupational therapists (NIS 6,416), psychologists (NIS 6,659), and workers in paramedical professions (NIS 7,491).

High salaries in health

Doctors' salaries rose by 59% in nominal terms and 42% in real terms. Doctors' salaries rose by more than any other profession in the health systems, followed by a 47% increase for nurses in the past decade.

The surge in doctors' salaries is a result of the collective agreement signed in 2011, which cost the state treasury NIS 16.5 billion. The agreement expires in the coming year, with another contentious dispute over a new wage agreement in store. The agreement shows that while the interns' pay increased from NIS 16,000 a month in 2008 to NIS 24,500, their extra shifts per month fell from 6.6 to fewer than 5.5.

The report also shows that 2017 monthly salaries averaged NIS 16,934 among defense and security employees, NIS 16,301 in government ministries, and NIS 13,223 in the educational system.

Wage differences between men and women in the public service were significantly narrower than in the general economy. The average monthly wage of women in Israel was NIS 7,633, 31% lower than men's NIS 11,928 average monthly wage.

The average difference in wages between men and women was 28% in the health system, 21% among defense and security employees, 15% in government ministries, and 9% in the educational system.

The public sector wages report includes public service employees (government ministries, government hospitals, and elementary schools), and the IDF and other defense and security employees. Wages of these 300,000 workers are paid directly from the state budget. Total spending on public sector workers' salaries totaled NIS 97 billion in 2017. Today's report adds many previously unreported analyses and data about the situation of public service employees.

The report shows that the average salary in all public service sectors is significantly higher than the general average salary. The difference varies from 31% in the educational system to 85% in the health system.

The public sector has grown in both salary and number of employees in recent years. The number of jobs in government ministries, grew 18% in the past decade, about the same as the population increase during that period. In 2017, for example, 3,305 employees left the public service and 3,434 were hired.

In addition to higher pay, public service employees also enjoy other advantages over workers in the private sector, the most prominent of which is job security. Civil Service Commission figures show that 304 employees were laid off in 2017, 0.9% of all public service employees.

In addition to employment stability, state workers also enjoy more social rights than the legal minimum. A civil service workdayis 30 minutes shorter than in the general economy. Many groups of workers, including parents of young children, have their workday shortened by an additional 30-60 minutes. State employees are entitled to a minimum of 24 vacation days a year, compared with 13 in the general economy, and 30 days of annual paid sick leave, compared with 18 in the economy at large. They are also entitled to participate in a series of activities outside the office, including professional training and team spirit building days. An analysis by the Ministry of Finance shows that all the hours in which the workers are not in the office amount to one full day a week, meaning that state workers are actually at work only four days a week.

Among the public service agencies with particularly high wages is the Israel Tax Authority, in which workers are paid 27-39% more than the average public service wage for the same ranks.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 11, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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payslip  picture: Tamar Matzapi
payslip picture: Tamar Matzapi
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