Labor, Welfare and Health Committee chairman Haim Katz (Likud) postponed the first reading of an amendment to the Women’s Work bill on Monday. The bill seeks to grant up to two weeks paternity leave for accompanying spouses.
The amendment to the bill, proposed by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), would entitle an employee to take up to 13 sick days and annual leave to accompany spouses or partners for testing and pregnancy care, birth and the days after delivery.
Katz said on the matter: “Do not suppose that I oppose the upholding of the rights and welfare of the employee. But the state, who through its ministers announced support for the bill, is again too generous at the expense of the employers and, through this bill, imposes the payment of sick days for the employee on them. If the state sees this as a worthy goal, and it is indeed worthy, then it should respect and fund the expenses by itself.”
MK Miki Rosenthal (Labor) agreed with Katz, calling the requirement of the employers to bear the costs of sick days “very serious.”
According to background information provided by the committee, compared to international organizations’ recommendations and other countries who are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Israel is advanced with respect to the rights of pregnant women and maternity leave, but lags in efforts for equitable parenting and paternity leave.
Director of labor law at the Chamber of Commerce Adv. Sigal Sudai said: “Why force the employer to deal with the absence of an employee and pay him? Why not limit the entitlement for a man to take sick days only in the case of testing and care of high risk pregnancy, as is currently the law? This current bill allows every employee to take advantage of sick days for any tests undertaken by his partner.”
In response to the criticism against the bill, Zandberg said the bill provided an excellent compromise. “What employer prefers his employee to come to work while his wife is still in the hospital and he is busy making arrangements and phone calls? Also, employers are not obligated to pay the first sick day, and they only partially pay for the following sick days.”
Zandberg added that “for the first time, the law will ensure that a father will be able to be by the side of the mother and the newborn for the first eight days of the baby’s and the new family’s life.”
Katz said the vote on the bill would be postponed following a discussion with employer organizations.