(June 7, 2018) On May 29, 2018, the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) approved an amendment to the Employment of Women Law, 5714-1954, as amended. Previously parental leave rights could be exercised at different times than maternity leave under conditions enumerated by law. The amendment allows a father whose spouse has given birth to more than one baby in one birth to take, with the spouse’s consent, parental leave at the same time as the spouse. The period during which both parents may be on leave may extend to seven consecutive days and up to two weeks of the additional three weeks of maternity leave enjoyed by the mother for each additional baby following a multiple birth. (Employment of Women Law (Amendment No. 60) 5778-2018 (Amendment Law) § 1, SEFER HAHUKIM [SH] [BOOK OF LAWS] (official gazette) 5778-2018 No. 2721 p. 280, Ministry of Justice website (in Hebrew; click on issue No. 2721) (amending Employment of Women Law, 5714-1954, SH 5714 p. 154, as amended (Law) (in Hebrew)). See also Press Release, Knesset, Final Approval: Period of Birth and Parenthood for Fathers of Twins (May 29, 2018), Knesset website (in Hebrew); Women’s Labor (Amendment No. 60) (Period of Delivery and Parenthood for Spouse of a Worker Who Gave Birth to More than One Child in One Birth) Amendment Law, KNESSET DRAFT BILLS No. 773 p. 148 (Apr. 30, 2018) (Amendment Law Draft Bill) (in Hebrew). For the legislative history of the Amendment Law, see National Legislation Databank, Knesset website (in Hebrew).)
Under the Employment of Women Law a female worker is generally entitled to maternity leave for a period of twenty-six weeks. This period may be split into a period of up to seven weeks before the due date and the remainder after the delivery. (Law § 6(b).) The worker may request that her maternity leave be shortened as long as the period is not less than fifteen weeks. A worker who delivers multiple babies at one birth is entitled to three additional weeks for each additional baby, starting with the second. (Id. § 6(c).)
Additional periods apply to a worker who was hospitalized for over two weeks during the maternity leave period, and to a female worker whose baby had to stay in or return to the hospital for further treatment. Maternity leave, as appropriate, is also provided to a worker who adopts or becomes a foster parent of a child ten years of age or younger. (Id. § 6(b(1) & (d).) During leave the worker is entitled to payment by the Institute for National Insurance in accordance with provisions of National Insurance [Consolidated Version] Law, 5755-1995, §§ 49(d)–50, SH 5755 No. 1522, p. 210, as amended (in Hebrew).
A worker whose spouse gives birth may be entitled to five days of paid leave immediately after the birth under conditions enumerated by the Law (three days of annual leave and two of sick leave). (Law § 7(c3).) In addition, the worker is entitled to parental leave for a period commencing at the expiration of six weeks after the birth of the child if his spouse is entitled to maternity leave and has agreed to return to work before the end of her leave. (Id. § 6(h)(1).)
A worker is eligible to take up to fourteen weeks of parental leave, followed by additional extensions as appropriate, if the worker and his wife have each worked at their respective places of work or with the same employer for at least twelve months prior to taking leave. (Id. § 6(h) (1A).) Parental leave payments are paid by the Institute for National Insurance only during the period in which the spouse does not collect maternity leave pay. (National Insurance [Consolidated Version] Law § 49(c)(2).)
Objective of the Amendment Law
According to the Amendment Law’s explanatory notes, the leave arrangements previously provided under the Law were insufficient for parents who had multiple babies born at one birth. The Amendment Law was designed to enable such parents to mutually decide how to use the extended leave provided under the Law so that both “the father and mother could stay together during the period of birth and parenthood and support each other during a time of intensive care of two or more newborns. The choice of the parents in the proposed option will not harm other rights to which they are entitled to by virtue of the Law.” (Amendment Law Draft Bill, explanatory notes (translation by author).)