The appellant, Yatir Zaloski, CAP, filed a claim against the respondent – its employer – Adventech Technologies Ltd. The claim was for payment of severance pay, overtime, compensation for mental anguish and delayed payment compensation. The legal issue which lay before the local labour court, and which was then discussed by National Labour Court on the appeal, was whether flight hours and travel time (such as travel to and from the airport/hotel) as well as time spent at the airport can be counted as work time.
The appellant had been employed by the company under a personal employment agreement from 2007 with a global salary (ie: including an amount for overtime). For the purposes of his work, he was required to go overseas from time to time to visit the overseas offices of clients of the company. At the beginning of 2010 the appellant resigned due to an adverse change in his employment terms which was reflected in a decrease in the salary. In 2013 he filed the claim for payment of severance pay and overtime hours. Included in these claims for payment, he added the hours during which he worked while waiting at airports, flight hours and hours spent travelling to and from the airports/hotels. The company responded to this that the work of the appellant could not be supervised and it was characterized as a special position of personal trust, such that he is not entitled to overtime hours at all.
The National Labour Court found that the appellant was not employed in a management position and therefore this was not a position of special trust justifying the exemption from the need to make payment for overtime. The Work and Rest Law provides the normative framework for the scope of employment of employees. As is known, this is an overriding law from which the parties are not free to waive their rights or condition the same according to their preferences. The law provides the framework for the maximum work hours allowed and requires payment of an increased salary for overtime hours. Its aim is the appropriate balance between work hours and rest hours of employees, as well as the protection of employees from work involving long work hours.
With respect to the hours involved in the flights, the court mentioned that Section 1 of the Work and Rest Law, 5711-1965, defines work hours: the period during which the employee is available for employment. Generally, the hours during which the employee makes his way to the place of work are not considered as hours during which the employee is available for work, in the language of the law, and therefore there is no entitlement to payment of salary for the same. While in the circumstances of this case the court rejected the claim of the appellant under this general principle, the court mentioned that it cannot be ruled out that there are circumstances in which there is room to deviate from this principle and recognize these travel hours to the destination during which the employee works as part of the work hours. Each case will need to be determined against the circumstances of the matter and against the purpose of the Work and Rest Law. In the current case, the appellant did not travel overseas so many times and the relative scope of the flight hours was minimal.
Reference: AA 15233-09-13 Adventech Technologies Ltd. V. Zaloski, Vice President Varda Wirth-Livne, November 2015