25 July 2014

Reimbursement for transportation to, from work

Travel costs add up.  Employers are required to reimburse employees for commute costs.  Are you getting reimbursed?

Transportation Reimbursement Basics
According to an expansion order (צו הרחבה), all employees are entitled to reimbursement for travel costs to work (דמי נסיעות / החזר הוצאות נסיעה).

  • Anyone who requires transportation to get to work is entitled to travel reimbursement.
  • Travel cost is calculated based on bus travel using a monthly pass (חודשי חופשי) or a multi-ride pass (כרטיסייה), if available.  If you would have to take more than one bus, that can also be counted towards travel cost.
  • The daily limit is updated from time to time.  As of 01.01.2011, the daily limit is 24.40 NIS.
  • It does not matter whether you actually get to work by bus or by alternate means (e.g. carpool, your own car, or taxi).
  • You are only entitled to reimbursement of transportation costs for days which you come to work.

Of course, an employer can pay more for travel costs but is not obligated to do so.

The Finer Points
At the end of last year, the Israeli news portal Walla took a look at a bunch of questions that might be raised about travel reimbursement and had the human resources consultants at Data Fax clarify.  Some of the relevant points include:

  • Don’t need receipts: You should not be required to present receipts.
  • The limit is the limit: You are not entitled to a reimbursement amount higher than the current daily limit.  This includes if you had to take a taxi or other means due to a public transportation strike or if you had to come in to work on a non-weekday or after regular working hours.
  • Company car: If you get a car from work that you take home at night (רכב צמוד), you’re not entitled to additional travel reimbursement.
  • Any way you get to work: Just as you are reimbursed no matter whether you take the bus or other means, if you get a ride from a co-worker who has a company car, you are still entitled to the travel money.
  • Hasa’ot: If your employer arranges group transportation (הסעה / hasa’ah), then you’re not entitled, unless you need to take transportation to get to the pickup point.

 

Take a quick peak at your payslip to make sure you’re getting what you’re entitled to, and then get back to work!  :)

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Comments

  1. That’s helpful to know, thanks! But what if one’s workplace isn’t on a regular bus route?

    • Toby, I would assume that one has to add up the cost of getting from the bus stop closest to your home to the bus stop closest to your workplace. No matter if you’re taking the bus, driving your own car, getting a ride, or taking a taxi, the reimbursement is based on the cost of bus transportation up to 24.40 NIS (as of 01.01.2011) per day. So, if it costs you 50 NIS to get to work everyday, you can receive up to 24.40 NIS per day.

  2. Would this be something that comes out pre-tax?
    When I got hired my boss told me that my salary includes a 500 nis transportation reimbursment. If after taxes that comes out to say 350 (133 less than the full amount of going to work 20 days a month).

    Thanks!

    • That’s a good point, Eliezer. The reimbursement is taxed on the same basis as your salary. It does work out to be less than you actually spend, but that’s the way it works.

  3. Allan Last says:

    What happens if you boss insists that it included in your pay, and MAKES you sign it in your contract?, and either states that is the only way you will get your job, or even just implies it in your wages discussion.

    • Very good question, Allan. There is a general principle in Israeli law that an employee cannot waive his basic rights as an employee.

      האם עובד יכול ביוזמתו לוותר על חלק מזכויותיו המוקנות לו עפ”י חוקי העבודה ?
      א. חוקי המגן הנכללים בדיני עבודה מרביתם קובעים זכויות קוגנטיות – זכויות שהעובד אינו יכול לוותר עליהן, ומטילים על מעביד את החובה להעניק לעובדיו תנאי עבודה מינימאליים מסוימים.
      ב. עובד/נציגות עובדים, לא יכול/ים לוותר על זכות מהזכויות המוענקות לעובד בחוקי מגן אלו, גם לא בחוזה אישי או בהסכם קיבוצי.
      ג. חוקי המגן נועדו להגן על זכויותיהם של עובדים הן מפני המעבידים והן מפני ויתור של העובד עצמו על זכויותיו.

      However, there is nothing to stop an employer from changing an offer he makes you. In other words, an employer may initially offer you 10,000 NIS per month salary. If you point out that you will need another 500 NIS per month for travel, the employer may change his offer to 9,500 NIS per month salary and 500 NIS per month for travel. Even though you are entitled to be reimbursed for your commuting costs, as long as the employer is paying you minimum wage there is nothing preventing the employer from changing a salary offer.

  4. Ibrahim says:

    I am an employer of approx 20 employees in Israel. I have an employee who lives within reasonable walking distance of his workplace. We always assumed he walked to and from work. After six years of employment, he is now asking for retroactive travel reimbursement. We were unaware that he drove his car to work even though he lives close. Once we understood that he was spending a modest amount of gas money to get to work, we agreed to start compensating him. However, I find it hard to accept his claim for retroactive compensation given that he did not inform us of his method of transport until now. He claims that he did not understand his “tlosh” because it was in Hebrew and he had assumed that transporation was included. My question is as follows…..Is an employee entitled by law to transportation compensation no matter how close he lives to his workplace? If not, at what distance does an employee have to live to be eligible for compensation? Thanks.

    • Ibrahim, you ask a good question. First, I must emphasize that I am not a lawyer and cannot dispense legal advice. At the same time, I am happy to provide information based on my experience and knowledge that can be helpful to you and others as a starting point.

      According to all of the sources I have seen, a person must live at least 500 meters (or two bus stops) from his workplace to be entitled to reimbursement for travel expenses. Once eligibility is established, the amount of reimbursement is calculated based on the criteria listed in the article above.

      Good luck, and I hope you are able to achieve an amicable resolution with your employee.

      • Ibrahim says:

        Thank you for the quick reply. The ynet article was very informative. We have determined that the employee in question lives approx. 650 meters from work calculated by road route, not as the crow flies. Hence, he is entitled by law to transportation compensation (which btw we are happy to give).

        I realize this is not a legal forum but any peer advise is useful. Thus, I have two more questions:

        1. Is it the perogative of the employee to inform his work about his residence and thus request transportation compensation or is the employer ultimately responsible for determining this information? Our claim is that he did not inform us over the past six years and we were unaware that he required compensation. Hence, he cannot claim retroactive compensation. He claims that it was our responsibility to find out where he lived and how he got to work. He also claims that he was under the impression that he was receiving this money for the past six years but could not understand his monthly statement because it was in Hebrew.

        2. Because of this issue, other employees have now started demanding transportation even though they clearly live close to work. They claim that the 500 meter route is calculated by following the main bus route. However, there are side roads from their homes to work that are far less than 500 meters. The bus route may be further than 500 meters. We are planning to check this out today in my car. However, there are no bus stops in between. When they walk to work, they take the side roads because it is obviously faster. In your opinion, what is the method used by the Israeli legal system to calculate the 500 meter ruling? Bus route or shortest walking distance?

        We are facing a minor mutiny here and any advice is highly appreciated.

        Thanks Again,

        Ibrahim

        • Ibrahim, I am sorry that you find yourself in a difficult situation. I believe that you may have come to the point where you need to consult with a labor lawyer. Regarding whose obligation it is to request transportation reimbursement, I can only say that, in my personal experience, my employer inquired about it. Both when I started working as well as at the beginning of each year, I have been given a form where I fill out my home address, the number of days I commute to work, and bus information (i.e., bus company name, bus line number, starting bus stop, ending bus stop, price per ride / monthly).

          As long as you are paying your workers above minimum wage, you might be able to adjust their salaries to cover the cost of a separate line for transportation. However, I would recommend you consult with a labor lawyer before taking any action or things become more difficult. Hopefully, you will be able to reach a solution that is financially viable for you and will allow your workers to feel that they are being adequately compensated and appreciated.

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