Top economist wants to force new dads to take paternity leave

Gov't cost-of-living czar, Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, presents new proposal for families that would require paternity leave.

Sara Rubenstein ,

Father and baby
Father and baby

Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, former Knesset member and one-time government cost-of-living czar has a new proposal for families with two working parents, which he presented to Channel 12 News on Wednesday.

The plan would not only extend the current maternity leave from 15 weeks to up to 24 weeks, it would also require fathers to take leave for two of those weeks.

The plan also provides an incentive for fathers to take even more leave by including a stipulation that two weeks of paid leave by the mother is only granted after the father takes 3.5 weeks of leave.

“This is already happening in European states, where the men take part in this critical stage of raising the kids,” Trajtenberg said. He added that when fathers don't take enough paternity leave, it "hurts the babies, the mothers, and seriously hampers the mothers’ careers."

Tajtenberg believes that increased paternity leave improves “bonding with these children, which is good for everyone, including for the economy. The main point is to do more for the children by bringing the fathers into this framework.”

Trajtenberg added that the proposal would also decrease inequality between men and women in the workplace and enhance productivity for working women.

The cost of the changes which Trajtenberg is proposing would cost Israel about NIS 1.5 billion ($430 million) every year. However, the report includes proposals to cover the cost by decreasing three government benefits to parents: the childbirth grant after a first child, child stipends for teenagers ages 15-17 and the hospitalization grant that the National Insurance Institute funds for 4.6 hospital days after birth. Mothers who experience a healthy birth generally leave the hospital 2.7 days after birth so much of the money is not used.