Workplace: Maternity and Paternal Leave Rights in Israel

Barnea Jaffa Lande & Co.
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People have many questions about their rights to parental leave, especially with respect to their workplaces. What are your rights as parents of newborns? We have compiled some of the key answers to prevalent questions about mothers’ and fathers’ rights to parental leave.

Who is entitled to take maternity and/or parental leave?

Every woman who is a salaried employee and gives birth is entitled to maternity leave. Parents who have a child through surrogacy and parents who adopt a child are also entitled to parental leave upon receiving the child. Women who are not salaried employees but are self-employed and give birth are also entitled to maternity leave and to a maternity allowance, but we are focusing here on salaried employees.

What is the length of the maternity leave?

A woman employed for at least 12 months by the same employer or in the same workplace (even if the employer has changed) is entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave (divided into 15 weeks of paid leave and 11 weeks of unpaid leave; see explanation below). A woman employed for less than 12 months is entitled to 15 weeks of maternity leave. A pregnant employee may take her maternity leave when she actually delivers, or up to seven weeks prior to her estimated due date.

A woman who gives birth after working at least one year for the same employer or at the same workplace may extend her unpaid maternity leave beyond 11 weeks. The total period of unpaid maternity leave (including the 11 weeks to which she is entitled) is capped at 25% of the period of her employment by the same employer prior to taking maternity leave, or one year, the lesser of the two.

A new mother may shorten her maternity leave. If employed by the same employer or in the same workplace for at least one year, she may return to work after 15 weeks of maternity leave. She can return to work earlier, after six weeks, provided that her spouse replaces her for the remainder of her leave (more details below). Employers must allow for new mothers to return to their jobs within three weeks of them notifying their workplace that they wish to return to work.

How is maternity allowance determined?

The Israeli National Insurance Institute is responsible for paying maternity allowance (payment during maternity leave). Entitlement to this allowance depends on the length of time the new mother (or the parent, in the instance of surrogacy or adoption) paid national insurance contributions prior to taking leave. If the new mother paid national insurance contributions for 6 out of the last 14 months prior to taking leave, she is entitled to maternity allowance for eight weeks of her maternity leave. If she paid national insurance contributions for 10 out of the last 14 months or for 15 out of the last 22 months prior to taking leave, she is entitled to a maternity allowance for 15 weeks of her maternity leave. After the period of entitlement to a maternity allowance has passed, there is no further entitlement to payment from the National Insurance Institute.

In instances of multiple births, paid maternity leave increases by three weeks (for anyone entitled to 15 weeks of maternity allowance) or by two weeks (for anyone entitled to eight weeks of maternity allowance).

Accumulation of seniority for social benefits during maternity leave

Throughout her entire maternity leave (both paid and unpaid), the new mother continues to accrue seniority at her workplace for the purpose of the payment of social benefits (sick pay, convalescence pay, severance pay, etc.). The number of vacation days the new mother is entitled to during the same year she took maternity leave is calculated in accordance with the number of days the new mother was present in the workplace that year.

Is an employer required to continue contributing to pension and provident funds during parental leave?

Employers must continue making payments to a provident fund for the period during which a maternity allowance or high-risk pregnancy benefit is paid, provided the employee also pays his/her contribution for the same period and provided the employee worked at least six months at the same workplace prior to the pregnancy and employment relations existed throughout the entire pregnancy. Of course, employers may afford employees better terms than those required by law, if otherwise specified in the employment agreement or in a collective bargaining agreement that covers the employee. The employee’s provident fund contributions during maternity leave are performed in the following manner: The employer deducts two months’ employee contributions from the employee’s final salary prior to taking leave, and pays the remainder of the employee’s contributions during maternity leave at the expense of the employee’s first salary upon returning to work.

Is the spouse of a new mother entitled to take time off from work immediately after the birth of a child?

Absolutely. Spouses may take time off work for the first five days after delivery without having to obtain their employer’s consent.

Twenty-four hours after the birth of a child, spouses can take an additional five days off from work. These five days consist of three days of the spouse’s accumulated vacation time at the workplace and two of the spouse’s sick days. In respect of every sick day, the employer must pay 50% of the employer’s daily salary, unless the spouse enjoys a more beneficial arrangement with his/her employer and receives his/her full salary from the first day of sick leave. This amounts to five calendar days, including weekends (as such, if these days fall on the weekend and are not workdays for the spouse, sick days will not be deducted for said days).

What about paid parental leave for the new mother’s spouse?

Spouses may share paid maternity leave to which a new mother is entitled. A spouse may take leave in place of the new mother and receive a maternity allowance in respect thereof. At any stage after six weeks have elapsed since the birth, the new mother may return to work and her spouse may replace her for the remainder of the leave.

Alternatively, spouses may take paid parental leave together with the new mother for seven days. In this case, the new mother must waive the last week of the maternity allowance to which she would have been entitled (the maternity allowance will be paid according to the spouse’s salary, provided he/she fulfills the National Insurance Institute’s qualifying period as specified above).

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The above is an overview of the primary basic arrangements to which parents are entitled during parental leave. Some workplaces offer additional benefits to their employees, beyond the basic rights after the birth of a child. Such benefits include paid parental leave for the new mother’s spouse at the workplace’s expense. It is important to check if your workplace offers additional benefits during the maternity and parental leave periods.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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