Knesset approves five-day paternity leave for Israeli fathers

But time off to be deducted from vacation days, sick leave, according to law passed Monday

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Illustrative photo of a father and his baby (Gershon Elinson/Flash90, File)
Illustrative photo of a father and his baby (Gershon Elinson/Flash90, File)

Israeli fathers are now eligible for five days of work leave after their partners give birth.

The Knesset on Monday approved a paternity leave bill in its second and third readings, passing it into law.

The legislation, proposed by Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg, stipulates that the first three days will be deducted from workers’ annual vacation days. If the fathers have no vacation days left, they will be permitted to take off without pay.

The last two days will be considered sick leave and workers will be compensated with half of their pay.

“The proposal introduces a historic concept to the legal books — paternity leave,” said Zandberg. “Maternity leave, parenting, motherhood is considered the exclusive lot of women. We have an interest as a state and a society to include the fathers more and more as an integral partner in family life.”

Sixty-four lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, with no one opposed. Earlier drafts of the bill had proposed eight days of leave for new fathers.

Since May 1998, fathers have been allowed to take paternity leave instead of — rather than in addition to — their wives, as well as one day of leave when the baby is born and a second day for a circumcision if the baby is a boy.

On March 29, the Knesset approved in its first reading a separate bill, proposed by Kulanu party MK Rachel Azaria, to change “nursing hour” — which allows women to take off one hour from the working day during the first four months after returning from maternity leave — to “parenting hour,” letting both parents use that time, if the mother of the child consents.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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