Bill could increase fathers’ parenting rights

If approved, bill will allow fathers to use the rights already afforded to mothers who work to be more available to their children.

A bill that was approved for its first plenum reading in the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women on Wednesday could pave the way for increasing equal parenting rights for fathers – and break the perception that all parenting rights should be granted only to mothers.
If approved, the bill, which was presented by Habayit Hayehudi MK Zevulun Orlev, will allow fathers to use the rights already afforded to mothers who work in the public sector (and other places of employment), to be more available to their children.
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Under the current arrangement, fathers can only use such rights if the mother’s workplace grants them; if the mother is self-employed, or works in the private sector, the father is not entitled to such rights. These rights include leaving work to collect young children from kindergarten and a certain number of sick days.
The rights can be passed on from the mother to the father.
“This bill breaks the perception that the rights for parents belong only to the mother,” commented committee chairwoman Tzipi Hotovely (Likud). “These are family rights. This way of thinking should become the norm so that all families reconsider the distribution of conjugal roles.”
“Children should have the right for either parent to stay with them,” said Orlev, who is chairman of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. “We should not deprive a child of his rights just because of individual work arrangements.”
Lawyer Gali Etzion, from the legal department of women’s rights group Naamat, said that the organization welcomed this change, which would make clearer the rights of parents in the workplace.
She pointed out that existing legislation regarding equal opportunities in the workplace touches upon the subject, but once it is set into law by this bill, any ambiguities will be avoided.