A 1st in Israel: The Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved 8-day paternity leave for fathers.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender group says proposed law excludes same-sex couples.
Edna Adato, Dan Lavie & Yael Branovsky
On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill proposed by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), that entitles fathers to eight days paid paternity leave.
The original bill was proposed by MK Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) in the previous Knesset and passed a first reading but then lost its momentum.
The law will give fathers an eight-day paternity leave comprised of three paid vacation days and five sick days, at their employer’s expense.
Zandberg revived the proposed bill after making deals with the Economy and Finance ministries and after getting both the coalition and opposition on board.
The next step is for the proposed law to be brought for a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenary.
The bill was signed by, among others, MKs from Meretz and Habayit Hayehudi.
“Israel is progressive in terms of women’s rights in pregnancy and childbirth, but lags behind with respect to paternity leave,” said MK Zandberg.
Most Western countries already offer paid paternity leave, sometimes lasting months or even years, including Austria, Finland, Iceland, Germany and Norway. If the bill is passed, Israel’s eight-day paternity leave will be among the shorter leaves offered.
“We’re talking about an important law that will allow fathers to help their wives at the most important time of their lives together,” said Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel.
“Many studies have found a correlation between involvement in raising and educating a child and the taking of paternity leave,” read the explanatory notes to the bill. “Israel at present does not give men the right to paternity leave. This is despite the fact that we have the highest birth rate in the Western world.”
Naturally, the proposed law is very popular among new fathers and soon-to-be new fathers.
“The proposed law comes right on time for me,” said Shai Ben Dror, whose wife is in her eighth month of pregnancy. “It is important for a baby to get adequate attention from both his caretakers from the very beginning.”
“I think this is an important decision. It’s a statement that fathers matter too,” Boaz Pearlstein, another incipient father, told Israel Hayom.
“In our day, fathers are seen as an inseparable part of bringing children into the world,” said Lior Shiviak, father to 1-year-old Noga and 3-year-old Koren. “It is critical that we participate just as much as women.”
“The first few days are critical, even just in terms of logistics,” he said, “starting with leaving the hospital and reorienting oneself at home.”
Nevertheless, not everyone is equally thrilled. “The bill in its present format discriminates and hurts gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual parents,” the Aguda, the National Association of GLBT in Israel, said in a statement on Sunday. “It is a pity that it has been put forward in this way.”
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=12895