Knesset Passes Reading of Bill for 26-Week Maternity Leave for Women in Israel


babyWith a vote of 60 in favor, one against, and one abstention, the Knesset yesterday approved a preliminary reading of a bill extending maternity leave from three months to six months, but without addtional maternity leave payments.

Under the bill, women in Israel will have the right to take 26 weeks off from work following the birth of a child. The first 14 weeks will be paid for by the National Insurance Institute.

Currently, Israeli women are entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave, during which they are paid by the NII in accordance with their average monthly salary.

The law allowing women to take six months of leave is backed by MK Dalia Itzik of Kadima and MK Tzipi Hotovely of Likud. Itzik said earlier this year that winning support for the bill was “the beginning of a revolution in which we will bring Israel closer to the enlightened Western world.”

Many European countries give several months or more of maternity leave following the birth of each child.

The 26-week leave is “a first, important, step,” Itzik said, but added that other proposals were already in the works.

Hotovely said the new legislation would allow women to “realize their motherhood without being rushed back to work.”

Arutz Sheva reports that MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari of National Union opposed the bill claiming it would harm employment of women, because in a case where an employer is barely capable of managing without his female employee for the current amount of maternity leave, he will simply avoid taking female employees in order to avoid absences of six months, while most male employees are absent no more than a month a year while they serve in the army reserves.

{Yair Israel}