62% of public workers admit to being affected by violence at work in the past year

May 29, 2022

The Histadrut recently conducted a comprehensive survey among 800 women and men employed in providing services and constitutes a representative sample of this population in the State of Israel. The survey participants include workers from the private sector, the public sector, and the third sector, from the fields of health and medicine, education, marketing and trade, welfare, transport and travel, financial services and insurance, entertainment and leisure, and aviation and tourism and other fields.

About half of the service providers (48.3%) state that, on average, about three times a month, they have experienced swearing or verbal abuse from the service recipients in the past year. Over a quarter (26.5%) were exposed to inappropriate sexual behavior (such as gender-related comments or explicit harassment) and 17% experienced attempted physical assault or deliberate exposure to the coronavirus.

The younger ages (18-34), workers in both private and public sectors, reported that they experienced higher rates of the negative behaviors examined in the study.
Men reported more physical assault attempts against them and attempted deliberate exposure to the virus.
Compared to all sectors, the highest rate of service providers affected by violence in the past year is in the public sector and stands at 62.6%. Additionally, one in five workers employed in the public sector suffers verbal violence from service recipients at least once a month (28%).

About a third of the respondents (35.9%) reported that the negative attitude towards them and the cases of violence by the service recipients became more common during the corona period compared to the pre-crisis period. Moreover, the proportion of those who think so is high among the older workers (55+) and the public sector employees.

15.3% of the service providers in the survey were exposed in the past year to threats from the service recipients, accompanied by behavior aimed at exposing the worker to infection with the coronavirus, such as coughs or spitting directed at the employee.

About a quarter of survey participants (26.5%) in the past year have experienced cases of inappropriate behavior on the part of service recipients, which were of a sexual nature, such as gender-related comments or explicit harassment.

26.4% of the workers surveyed testified that they were health-affected by the negative attitude towards them. Among those who experienced a negative attitude in the past year, the proportion affected by health increased to 46%. Like the other indices, young workers testified more that they were healthily affected by their negative attitude.

In addition to a survey conducted among service providers, the Histadrut conducted another survey to examine attitudes on the subject among the general public. In an application to 510 men and women, who constitute a national and representative sample of the adult population in the State of Israel (Jewish and Arab sector), it emerged that:

36.3% of Israelis reported witnessing a case of violence or assault by a service provider in the workplace in the past year.
11.8% of survey respondents admitted that they had behaved negatively towards a service provider in the past year. Over half of them regretted in retrospect, their behavior towards service providers.

The chairman of the Histadrut, Arnon Bar-David, said that “the expansion of the phenomenon of violence in Israeli society is also painfully reflected in the world of work. We are all familiar with the reports of violent assaults against nurses or public transport drivers, and unfortunately, we seem to have become accustomed to these cases. The Histadrut is here to say ‘No more!’ – Violence no longer works here. Workers that provide service to Israeli citizens do not have to deal with stress and anxiety every time they go on shift. The “bombardment readiness” felt by public servants is a routine that must not be tolerated. Under my leadership, the Histadrut will continue to invest resources to eradicate the phenomenon and make the work environment safer. Any harm to public servants is a slap in the face to Israeli society, and each and every one of us has a responsibility to change the situation.”

Following the recent events, the Histadrut launched a public awareness campaign

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