Bill to extend maternity leave passes 1st reading

The Knesset approved Wednesday the first reading of a new law that would extend maternity leave by two more weeks. If the bill, submitted by MKs Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) and Shelly Yacimovich (Labor), passes two more readings, new mothers will be entitled to 14 weeks rather than 12 to spend with their newborn before returning to work. Despite supporting the proposed legislature when it was first presented to the government for approval on International Women's Day earlier this month, coalition members and officials from the Finance Ministry expressed their reservations at the new law, saying that it would cost the country an additional NIS 220-400 million. The subsequent readings for the new law will take place during the Knesset's summer session.