Anastasia Michaeli 311 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerzolomiski)
The Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women met Tuesday to discuss what a
number of MKs described as an alarming increase in the number of women who are
fired during – and even because of – pregnancy.
“We all should be
concerned by data indicating that in 2010, firings of women due to pregnancy
rose by 58% over the previous year,” said Anastasia Michaeli (Israel Beiteinu),
one of the MKs who initiated the hearing.
“This phenomenon of firing
pregnant women is not just a social injustice, but also harms the national
interest, which supports both the integration of women into the work force and
the creation of a new generation that should be as big as possible,” added the
mother of eight.
The Knesset’s Research and Information Department
presented a paper in which they found that the Equal Employment Opportunities
Commissioner received approximately 400 complaints by women regarding workplace
Of these, 194 concerned discrimination on the basis of
pregnancy, and 133 of those were by women who believed that they had been fired
due to their pregnancies. In 2009, the commission received 286 complaints from
women, of which 127 concerned pregnancybased discrimination, and 93 of which
alleged pregnancy-based firings.
The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry’s
legal department has submitted 16 indictments in the past two years against
employers who have violated the law, which prohibits firing a woman due to
pregnancy unless it applies for and received special permission from the
ministry to do so.
“Most women who are fired while pregnant never submit
complaints,” said attorney Keren Bar-Yehuda from the Israel Bar Association. She
suggested that the ministry should distribute information regarding pregnant
women’s rights in women’s health care clinics, to raise awareness.
Bassok, the legal counsel for Na’amat, the women’s organization, agreed with
Bar- Yehuda’s assessment that the majority of women do not submit complaints,
and added that “it is not frequently a case of cleaning women, but rather of
teachers, psychologists and dentists. We have complaints that teachers were
fired from prestigious schools and nongovernmental organizations.”
added that the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry should create a survey of
those employers against whom complaints are filed, in order to focus strategies
on confronting the phenomena.
The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry
reported that even when ministry officials refuse to grant an employer
permission to fire a pregnant women, there is often little evident connection
between the request to fire the employee and the employee’s
“Our working assumption is that a pregnant women will have a
very hard time finding alternative work if she is fired, and so we try to
realize every possibility to maintain her employment,” said Rivka Makover, a
Makover added that in the past two years, she had
noted growing awareness among women of their rights, including during fertility
“We want to get to a situation in which pregnant women are
not fired,” said committee chairwoman Tzipi Hotovely (Likud).
“It is also
important to protect women who receive fertility treatments, who are also
included under the law, but are sometimes not protected because they hide the
fact that they are undergoing treatment.
“There are still employers who
see each young woman as a time bomb who is liable to get pregnant and give
birth,” Hotovely added. “Perspectives such as these prevent women from advancing
and realizing their abilities in the years in which they should be advancing and