Israeli Cabinet Minister Silvan Shalom, who has headed both the Finance and Foreign Ministries, is promoting an official 5-day workweek; Sundays will be off.
The proposal will require a change in the Work and Rest Hours Law, which currently calls for workdays of no longer than 8 hours (not including breaks) and a workweek of no longer than 45 hours. Shalom’s idea is to give Sundays off, and add a half-hour of work to each day Monday through Friday. Work will end at 2 P.M.on Friday afternoon during the summer, and an hour earlier during the winter.
The Sabbath and Sunday will both be deemed official days of rest.
It has been reported that Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the Sephardic-hareidi-religious camp has expressed interest in the idea, because it would release public pressure to keep stores open on the Sabbath and would thus decrease Sabbath desecration.
Shalom, who is currently Vice Prime Minister, is still in the planning stages regarding meetings with the head of the national Histadrut Labor Union, representatives of the employers, and other market elements. He is optimistic, however: “A long Saturday-Sunday weekend will change the country from one extreme to the other,” he says. “It could bring about calm; the feeling of freedom will enable people to come to work on Monday more calmly and with more motivation. In addition, by adding hours to the day, there will be more production… The banking and economic systems will be more synchronized with the world.”
A change in the work week will also bring about changes in the educational system – longer school days, with lunch programs, and no Sunday classes.