The Knesset gave final approval on Tuesday to legislation extending paid maternity leave by one week.
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Consequently, women who gave birth after January 1, 2017 will now be entitled to 15 weeks of paid leave.
Alternatively, parents can choose to take one week of leave jointly instead of giving the mother the extra week. That week can be taken at any time during the 14-week period.
The new law also makes it easier for fathers to take part of the paid leave in the mother’s stead. Previously, they could do so only for a minimum of three weeks. Now, they can replace the mother for as little as one week.
The legislation was sponsored by lawmakers Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) and Dov Khenin (Joint List). It was strongly backed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads Kulanu.
“We’re continuing our battle to improve living standards for the younger generation, parents and working citizens,” Kahlon said Tuesday.
“Working parents are at the top of our priority list,” added Azaria.
Khenin, however, cautioned that the job isn’t yet done.
“We’re making progress toward the standard of maternity leave accepted in developed countries, but we must continue down this road, both with regard to the length of maternity leave and with regard to mothers and fathers being partners in parenting,” he said.
Khenin has been trying to extend maternity leave for years. Back in the 17th Knesset (2006-09), he proposed extending it from 12 to 16 weeks, but legislators at that time decided to cap it at 14 weeks.