(JTA) – Britain’s employment minister said she would introduce new regulations to make Jews who refuse to work on Shabbat eligible for welfare benefits.
Employment Minister Esther McVey and Jobcentre National Director Neil Couling have told the Jewish employment charity JCom that rules would be “tweaked” to end the practice of denying job seekers’ allowance to observant Jews, The Jewish Chronicle of London reported Friday.
The Department for Work and Pensions confirmed that there had been 50 cases of people from different religions being denied unemployment benefits because the claimants’ religious observance interfered with their ability to work, the Chronicle reported.
At least 15 cases involved Jews, five of whom had won tribunal cases against the department.
Manchester job center staff were due to receive “training” in dealing with the issue from this week, Couling said.
Ivan Lewis, a British lawmaker who has pushed the department and ministry to come up with solutions to the problem, said that the department “made it very clear that legislation and guidance leading to observant Jews being penalized was wrong. They are willing to put that right, and that’s a very important step.”
“But we will judge it on the facts, and if Jewish claimants are still discriminated against, I will be the first to go back to the minister and say this is not what was promised,” he said.