The Knesset plenum passed into law on Monday a bill which makes Israeli fathers eligible for five days of work leave after their partners give birth.
Sixty-four lawmakers supported the bill in its third and final reading, with none opposed.
The legislation, introduced by MKs Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), David Bitan (Likud), Yoav Kisch (Likud) and a group of MKs, stipulates that the first three days will be deducted from workers’ annual vacation days. If the fathers have no vacation days left, they will be permitted to take off without pay.
The last two days will be considered sick leave and workers will be compensated with half of their pay.
“The proposal introduces a historic concept to the legal books — paternity leave,” said Zandberg. “Maternity leave, parenting, motherhood is considered the exclusive lot of women. We have an interest as a state and a society to include the fathers more and more as an integral partner in family life.”
MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu) argued that the law ”discriminates between self-employed people and salaried employees,” and suggested that it would ”widen the existing gaps between small business owners and salaried employees.”
The explanatory notes to the bill state that ”Many studies have found a correlation between involvement in raising and educating a child and the taking of paternity leave. 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.”
Since May 1998, fathers have been allowed to take paternity leave instead of — rather than in addition to — their wives, as well as one day of leave when the baby is born and a second day for a circumcision if the baby is a boy.