MK Orly Levy-Abecasis 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
With votes on the budget approaching, coalition MKs, led by Knesset Committee
for Children’s Rights chairwoman Orly Levy-Abecasis (Likud Beytenu), demanded
Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett make it easier
for children to receive subsidized day care.
According to Levy-Abecasis,
the new terms for day care subsidies will “bring great harm to many and varied
population groups, including women from weaker sectors, whom the government says
it wants to encourage to join the workforce.”
The 2013-2014 budget added
“effective earning capacity” as a condition for receiving subsidized day care
This means that both parents must work or be serving in the IDF
or civilian service – working a combined 125 percent of the time.
father learning in yeshiva will only be considered employed in the years in
which he received a legal deferral of IDF services.
The new conditions
will apply in the 2014-2015 school year and after, but the budget bill gives
Lapid and Bennett the option of starting the policy in January 2014.
addition, the rule will be implemented gradually over four years, with fathers
being required to work at least 10 hours a week the first year, 15 the second
and so on. For every five hours below the minimum a father works, the subsidy
will be cut by NIS 100 per month.
Currently, all working mothers receive
a day care subsidy in proportion to how much the family earns.
to Levy-Abecasis, the new conditions harm women, who in most cases play a
greater role in raising children than men.
“This role often means giving
up a career and leaving the workforce. Therefore, [giving all working women day
care subsidies] is meant encourage women to go out and work, empower them and
make sure they are not economically dependent on their spouses,” she
The new budget will have the opposite effect, Levy-Abecasis
explained, leading women to stay home and take care of their
Married university students who don’t work full time, as well
as haredi, Ethiopian, Beduin and Arab women who are often the sole breadwinner
in their family will not be able to send their children to day care, she
“Women will be left dependent on their husbands and will only
increase the socioeconomic gaps we are trying to shrink,” the Likud Beytenu MK
“Even worse, conditioning subsidies could lead poor women and
families to prefer to receive welfare payments rather than work, or encourage
employment in the black market.”
The chairwoman also warned that the new
law could lead to another “Stroller Protest,” like the one in summer
Several other coalition MKs signed Levy-Abecasis’ letter, including
MKs Gila Gamliel (Likud Beytenu), who coordinates the coalition’s dealings with
the budget in the Finance Committee, Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) and Shuli
Muallem (Bayit Yehudi), and they plan to work to convince their fellow
legislators to vote against requiring both parents to work.
Ministry responded to Levy-Abecasis’ claims, saying that the new policy is meant
to encourage men and women to enter the workforce.
“The change will be
implemented in a gradual, proportionate way and recognizes military and civilian
service as employment, as well as yeshiva studies recognized as a military
service deferral,” a ministry spokesman explained.
Last month, Gamliel
and Levy-Abecasis voted against raising value added tax, and MK Miri Regev
(Likud Beytenu) walked out rather than rebel against the coalition – but only
after giving a plenum speech in which she said Lapid is “spitting in the face”
of the middle class.