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By Jenny David
July 22—New Israeli fathers gained the legal right to six days of paternity leave, including the day of the child's birth, when the parliament unanimously passed a long-debated law into immediate effect.
The amendment to Israel's Women's Employment Law—2016 requires employers to give new fathers paternity leave, although the six days will come at the expense of already existing leave entitlements—three days from the employee's annual sick leave and the other three from annual vacation days. If the father has no remaining vacation days, those days will be granted as unpaid leave.
The leave-day swap was central to gaining business representatives' support for the politically popular initiative.
The law also reverses a previous narrowing of the options available to the father under sick pay regulations passed in 2000, now allowing him to accompany his partner to medical tests during the pregnancy. Under the new law, “a father will have discretion regarding which pregnancy examinations he will join, thus making him part of the birth process.”
Many studies have found a clear link between paternity leave and the involvement of fathers in raising and educating their children, according to the legislation, which adds that “the Western world is moving toward a model of equal parenting and this bill comes to anchor in law the parents' shared time upon their baby's birth.”
Noting that Israel has never before recognized paternity leave despite having the highest birth rate in the Western world, the legislation's parliamentary sponsor called the change a “historic concept” in Israeli law.
“Maternity, parenthood and mothering were considered the exclusive domain of women,” said parliament member Esther Zandberg. “We have an interest as a state and a society to make the father a more integral partner in family life.”
The new law applies only to salaried employees, a distinction parliament member Oded Forer said “will create discrimination between the self-employed and salaried workers and increase the already existing inequality between small business owners and salaried employees.”
Extension of paternity leave to the self-employed will be “the next stage,“ Zandberg said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jenny David in Jerusalem at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at firstname.lastname@example.org
The final draft of Amendment 55 to the Women's Employment Law is available in Hebrew here.
For more information on Israeli HR law and regulation, see the Israel primer.
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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