Legislative panel approves better maternity benefits for Israeli self-employed

Bill would base benefits on entire year of income; Henin: This is one of many laws necessary to ensure their rights.

Pregnant woman does yoga in New York 370 (R) (photo credit: Shannon Stapleton / Reuters)
Pregnant woman does yoga in New York 370 (R)
(photo credit: Shannon Stapleton / Reuters)
Self-employed women will receive increased maternity benefits if a bill that the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday passes into law.
The proposal, by Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women and Gender Equality chairwoman Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) and MK Dov Henin (Hadash), would give self-employed women National Insurance Institute benefits more similar to those given to female employees.
Currently, if a self-employed woman’s income decreases after returning to work following childbirth, she has to pay the NII the difference between the benefits she received from her previous, higher income and those based on her new income.
According to Lavie and Henin’s bill, NII maternity benefits for self-employed women will be based on the woman’s income for the entire year, not just after they give birth.
Lavie pointed out that the difficulties of running a business and taking care of a baby means that self-employed women usually earn less after childbirth and as such, they lose their rights to full benefits.
“This obstacle discriminates against self-employed women and blocks entrepreneurship and economic independence,” she said.
“The government should allow protections for women so there can be greater equality in the world of self-employment,” Henin said. “This bill is one of many laws and steps necessary to ensure the rights of self-employed men and especially women.”
Irit Gazit, manager of WIZO’s legal aid department, which helped Lavie and Henin formulate the bill, said the government shouldn’t punish women for working less after childbirth in a world where women face discrimination in the workforce and are expected to take care of their children.
“The government should create the conditions that will allow women to work and develop economically, and act to improve the status of all women in the workforce,” Gazit stated.