Bill to extend maternity leave to 6 months passes first hurdle

Bill to extend maternity

A bill to extend maternity leave from 14 weeks to six months passed its first hurdle on Monday. The first reading of the bill, sponsored by Kadima faction head Dalia Itzik and Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely passed by 28 votes to 0. Itzik said it was "another step on the way to revolutionizing the recognition in Israel of working women's rights." However, when the bill was approved in a preliminary reading earlier this month, Kadima indicated that for most working mothers, the bill would simply maintain the status. "At this stage, due to the heavy costs of extending maternity leave, it is proposed to add in the National Insurance Institute Law that beneficiaries will be entitled to receive payments for the 14-week period alone, as currently prevails. This way, the [new] law will entail no financial costs," the party said in a statement. Under the current law, mothers are entitled to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, some of which may be taken by the father instead. Women who have been employed by the same employer for over 24 months may extend their maternity leave past those 14 weeks to an unpaid period of no more than one-quarter of the total number of months that they have been employed. Thus, the only group that stands to gain from this new bill are women who worked less than two years at the same employer prior to their maternity leave.