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The vast majority of employed women who became pregnant during the past five years feared that they would be laid off as a result, according to a survey by the Economic Research section of the Industry and Trade Ministry.

The survey found that 92 percent of pregnant employees feared for their jobs, while 82 percent of respondents said they delayed pregnancy in order not to risk professional advancement.

However, it seems that all feared for naught: No one was fired, and only 4 percent reported that their relationship with their employer deteriorated. Only 7.3 percent reported that their work hours were reduced as a result, perhaps because the employment laws forbid employing women in overtime positions after their fifth month of pregnancy.

Some 35 percent of those taking part in the survey reported that they were absent from work for a considerable period during their pregnancy, but that this did not affect their relationship with their employer.

The survey was meant to show the extent to which employers and employees were aware of labor laws and the rules regulating the conditions of salaried employees, especially women.

More than 1,700 salaried employees took part in the survey.

Regarding the concerns that many women had about being laid off, the survey suggests that many had been told, when they were hired, that they should not become pregnant during their first years of employment. Nearly 21 percent surveyed said they had received such warning, and 14 percent said that during the interview, they were asked whether they were pregnant or planned to be in the near future.

The author of the study, Michal Alfasi, suggests that another reason for the gap between women's apprehension and the actual situation is that many employers "see beyond the pregnancy" and value the employee's contribution. She also says that the employers recognize that the sanctions for firing pregnant women are quite severe.

More than half of the salaried employees participating in the survey (56 percent) do not know the labor laws that pertain to women, nor the protection they offer. The survey showed that women who know the laws are usually Jewish, educated, secular and are employed in the civil service.