Knesset extends paid maternity leave to 15 weeks
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Knesset extends paid maternity leave to 15 weeks

Weeklong bump to apply to all women who have given birth since January 1

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

An illustrative photo of a pregnant woman. (Photo credit: pregnant woman image via Shuttertsock)
An illustrative photo of a pregnant woman. (Photo credit: pregnant woman image via Shuttertsock)

The Knesset on Tuesday extended paid maternity leave from 14 to 15 weeks.

Forty-six lawmakers voted in favor of the bill proposed by Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria and Joint (Arab) List MK Dov Khenin in its second and third readings, passing it into law, with none opposed.

The extension applies to Israeli women who have given birth since January 1, 2017.

Moreover, under previous laws, men were eligible to take part of the paid leave granted to their wives, but must do so for at least three weeks. The new law reduces the minimum to one week.

“Extending maternity leave, and the option for fathers to take part in this period at the same time is a historic change,” said Azaria on Tuesday.

The Knesset will also weigh another weeklong extension, bumping the leave for new mothers up to 16 weeks, within six months, according to a statement from Azaria’s office earlier this month.

The legislation saw Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon — the Kulanu party leader — earmark NIS 230 million ($63 million) to cover the costs incurred by the additional week of paid leave to the National Insurance Institute.

Knesset member Rachel Azaria of the Kulanu party seen in the plenum during an introduction day for new parliament members, March 29, 2015 (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Knesset member Rachel Azaria of the Kulanu party seen in the plenum during an introduction day for new parliament members, March 29, 2015 (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The last time the Knesset extended paid maternity leave was in 2007, when it was raised from 12 to 14 weeks. In June, the Knesset approved a five-day paternity leave for new fathers, though the time off is deducted from their vacation days and sick leave rather than being covered by the National Insurance Institute.

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