As of this weekend, McDonald's Israel will have to find non-Jewish replacements for the 773 teenagers currently employed for weekend shifts. The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry announced on Tuesday that it will fine companies more than $9,000 for violating the Youth Employment Law, which makes it illegal to employ Jewish teens on the Sabbath.
The international fast food chain intends to employ minority groups over the weekend rather than shut down their various branches, and vows to fight the law.
"The law's initial purpose was to protect youths, who in those years primarily worked. However, due to Israel's adoption of Compulsory Education Laws, most teens study during the week, and in their spare time over the weekend, they would rather work in order to provide for themselves or for their families," a McDonald's spokesperson told Ynet.
"Working over the weekend allows teens to earn a higher salary due to the employment terms which entail a 150% hourly wage," the spokesperson added.
The chain predicts that most of its Jewish teenage employees will have to leave their jobs since they are not longer eligible for the pay-and-a-half weekend salary.
“The law, which will come into effect this Saturday, will come into effect even though we’ve been fighting it for 17 years,” McDonald’s Israel said in a statement sent to the Israeli media. “We intend to petition the High Court of Justice to change the law.”
Still, the ministry plans to send inspectors to McDonald's branches to make sure that the law is enforced. "It shocks me that lawbreaking employers dare to even voice their financial concern over having to dismiss their employees. They have been breaking the law and they cannot continue to do so anymore," said the Ministry's legal advisor Michael Atlan.