The Knesset Plenum passed, in its second and third reading, the Women`s Work bill (amendment no. 49) 2012 by Knesset Member Orly Levi-Abaksis (Yisrael Beitenu) and a group of MKs. The bill was discussed in the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.

Section six of the Women`s Work Law states the right to maternity leave for an employee who gives birth. The sections states that if her infant is hospitalized during the maternity leave for longer than two weeks, she is entitled to extended leave.

Today, a maternity leave extension is for a period of no longer than eight weeks, during which a woman receives payment if she is eligible, and even then for only part of the time. For example, a woman with a child hospitalized for six weeks is eligible for extended maternity leave for only four weeks; for an infant hospitalized for ten weeks, a woman is eligible for a six-week extension. The bill, which received final approval, states that a woman will be eligible for a fully-paid maternity-leave extension, according to the length of hospitalization. If an infant is hospitalized for six weeks, the mother receives a six-week extension and payment when eligible.

The bill also determines that the maximum maternity-leave extension will be ten weeks, and not the current eight.

The bill will cover women already in maternity leave the day it was publicized.

Chairman of the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, MK Haim Katz (Likud) presented the bill. ”All of the woman`s rights in her place of work will be maintained during the extension, including contributions to her pension fund by the employer and seniority rights. Furthermore, any worker who gained a fully qualifying period in National Insurance will be eligible for fully-paid maternity leave.”

According to Katz, ”The bill is real news to parents of premature infants or those requiring hospitalization for other reasons during maternity leave. They can now concentrate all their time and energy on taking care of their infant who needs them.”

Thirteen MKs supported the bill, which passed with no opposition.