'Egalitarian Parenting' Bill Clears First Legal Hurdle

The bill would allow new fathers to share benefits currently given only to new mothers.

A father and his son.
Dreamstime

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation yesterday approved the “egalitarian parenting bill,” which would allow benefits currently given to new mothers to be shared by both parents.

For instance, current law allows new mothers to leave work an hour early each day for four months after returning from maternity leave, in order to make it easier for them to collect their infant from day care. The new bill would allow either parent to make use of this benefit. It also renames the benefit: Instead of the “nursing hour,” this early departure would be called the “parenthood hour.”

Similarly, the bill would rename maternity leave, currently called “birth leave” in Hebrew, as “birth and parental leave,” to encourage fathers to exercise their existing right to law to split this leave with their wife. It would also require the National Insurance Institute to stress the possibility of splitting the leave in the letter it sends to all new mothers.

“In recent years, significant changes have taken place in the Israeli family that haven’t been reflected in the labor laws,” explained MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), one of the bill’s sponsors.

A portrait of MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu)
Olivier Fitoussi

“This bill is a collection of amendments whose goal is to enable couples to split up the tasks of raising children in whatever way they decide as a family unit.

“The law benefits every family,” Azaria continued. “The children get to be raised by both parents, the fathers get precious time with their children and the mothers get cooperation in raising the children that will enable them to compete more equally in the job market.”

The bill’s approval by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation means the coalition has agreed to back it. Consequently, it is almost certain to pass its preliminary reading in the Knesset later this week.