The Labor, Welfare and Health Committee on Monday unanimously approved for its second and third readings in the plenum a bill presented by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) according to which fathers in Israel will be eligible for five days of paternity leave after their partner gives birth.

The leave, to run parallel to that granted to mothers, will consist of three vacation days and two additional days on the account of the father’s sick-pay allocation, this in addition to the father`s absence on the day the baby is born. 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.

Labor Committee approves paternity leave bill for final plenary vote

(MK Tamar Zandberg, archive photo)

”This is an historic achievement, no less,” Zandberg said. ”For the first time, a father will have the right, anchored in law, to be at home during the first days after the birth, and this is the first time the term `paternity leave` will enter the book of laws in Israel.”

”A birth is a family event which does not belong to the mother alone,” she continued. ”The proposal was born of necessity; of employers` lack of support for their workers.”

Zandberg thanked Minister Uril Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) for his assistance in advancing the legislation.

Labor Committee Chairman MK Elie Elalouf (Kulanu) said, ”This is a real correction. Families should be together at such important moments.” Elalouf said he would promote legislation that would allow the 270,000 self-employed people in Israel to take paternity leave.

MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) said, ”This is the beginning of a significant revolution. I stayed at home for three months with each of my children after they were born, and I enjoyed it very much.”