Pregnant woman (illustrative) .
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The Economy Ministry has launched a digital information brochure regarding the rights of both male and female employees in the lead up to and during pregnancy, on parental leave and upon returning to work.
The Guide to Employee Rights is currently available only in Hebrew and Arabic and can be found on the ministry’s website.
The guide addresses questions such as whether an employee is obligated to inform her employer that she is pregnant and at what stage of her pregnancy she must do so, whether employees are entitled to be absent from work due to fertility treatments and whether an employee can be fired while on parental leave.
The production of the guide was initiated by the Regulations and Labor Law Enforcement Administration at the Economy Ministry following inquiries arising in connection with pregnancy and childbirth. A second version of the guide is also available online for employers, detailing their principal obligations toward their employees.
Naava Shafner, executive director of ImaKadima, a nonprofit organization that promotes career-minded mothers and family-friendly workplaces, welcomes the online information and saying it’s a great initiative to let women know about their rights for two reasons.
“First of all, knowledge is power, and the more women know, the more they are able to stand up for what they are entitled to,” she said. “This will also encourage employers to volunteer the information and promote more family-friendly workplaces.”
The Economy Ministry’s enforcement administration noted that 340 administrative and criminal files against employers suspected of breaching the Employment of Women Law had been opened from 2011 until the end of February 2015.
A total of NIS 1,707,410 in fines were imposed in 47 cases and there were six administrative warnings. The ministry served more than 35 indictments to employers who had breached the law, and there were 14 convictions and seven sentences against employers convicted of breaching the legislation.
Yaffa Sulimani, director of the Regulations and Labor Law Enforcement Administration, says she called on employers to keep the guidelines of the law and refrain from hurtful employment practices or unlawfully terminating employment.
“Employers who do not keep to the Employment of Women Law regulations can expect criminal sanctions,” she said.
Employers who breach their legal obligations can expect to pay a fine of NIS 35,740 to each employee for each incident.
Breaching the legal requirements may even constitute a criminal offense, leading to those employers who break the law standing trial. The punishment for a criminal can be up to six months imprisonment or a fine of NIS 150,600, she said.
The ministry’s Research and Financial Administration conducted two surveys to determine the extent to which citizens know their rights with regards to parental employment laws, which will be published in the next few days. Their findings show that 72 percent of the mothers surveyed knew the length of legal maternity leave, 64% knew all the details, but only 50% knew that fathers are eligible for paternity leave.
In the Arab sector, only 49% of mothers were familiar with the law regarding eligibility to maternity leave and a mere 23% were familiar with the father’s eligibility to take leave. These rates are much lower than the rates among Jewish mothers, 76.1% of whom are familiar with eligibility to maternity leave and 53.5% are familiar with the father’s eligibility.