More than 100,000 Israelis have been laid off and are eligible for unemployment benefits as a result of the economic situation in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a seven-hour period on Wednesday, 28,000 new unemployed registered with the National Insurance Institute, the Israeli business daily Globes reported.

Daphna Aviram-Nitzan, director of the Center for Governance and the Economy at the Israel Democracy Institute, using data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, estimated that the number of those on unpaid leave could reach 600,000, which would cost the state around NIS 4 billion ($1,062 billion) per month in unemployment benefits.

“The high cost of putting hundreds of thousand of employees on unpaid vacation highlights the importance of the transition to working at least partially from home in the public and business sector,” Aviram-Nitzan told the Globes.

“The government should refrain from putting all public-sector employees on paid vacation,” he said. “It should carefully consider where options for working at home should be expanded. This is an opportunity for a real-time experiment, accompanied by measurement of output and performance, in order to prepare the spadework for working all day from home or remotely as a format for some employees when the crisis ends.”

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