New law would give dads paternity leave

Dads are parents too, the Ministerial Law Committee decided Sunday, and they have a right - and obligation -- to help raise their kids.

Moshe Cohen,

Father and baby
Father and baby

Dads are parents too, the Ministerial Law Committee noted Sunday, and as a result, they approved a law that provides for equal treatment for fathers in all laws that concern parental leave and rights on the job that apply to mothers, including providing leave for fathers, as well as giving them time off to support their wives during breastfeeding, if the husband and wife work together – or to give dad time to bottle-feed his baby.

The feeding law will apply for the first four months of baby's life, and feeding time take place as needed during the workday, if the infant is present; otherwise, a father can leave an hour early with pay to go home and support his wife with her feeding efforts.

Because men and women are to be treated equally, the laws themselves need new names, the Committee decided. Instead of “maternity leave,” both parents will take “birth and parenting leave,” and instead of “breastfeeding time,” the period will be known as “parenting hour.”

The law, which is backed by the Economy and Finance Ministries, will be brought for its first reading in the coming days, after which it will be prepared for final passage. Once on the books, however, interested fathers will have to read their congratulation letters from National Insurance carefully; a section of the law that would require the National Insurance Institute to specifically inform fathers of their rights was rejected, but the list of what fathers are eligible for will be included in the general “welcome packet” the NII sends new mothers.

MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), author of the bill, said that it was needed because “in recent years there have been many fundamental changes in Israeli families that have not yet been reflected in the law. This measure brings together a series of adjustments that will enable couples to more equitably distribute among themselves the tasks involved in raising children. The law has benefits for everyone: Children have an opportunity to build a relationship with both parents, fathers have a chance to see their children more often, and mothers get more help raising their kids.”

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