Israel increases maternity leave; expectant mothers unsatisfied

Wednesday, May 09, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Israel's Knesset on Monday approved a bill to immediately extend paid maternity leave in the Jewish state from 12 to 14 weeks. It was the first time Israel had increased the time mothers can stay at home with their newborns and still receive a salary in over 53 years.

Most expectant mothers responded by saying that even a small increase is better than nothing, but noted that other developed nations are far more generous with maternity leave.

Two pregnant immigrants from the United Kingdom told The Jerusalem Post that 14 weeks is nothing compared to the 39 weeks of maternity leave Britain would have provided them.

"Putting a three-month-old into day-care, when the mother is most likely still nursing, is much too soon," said Lisa Davidson, who moved to Israel from Scotland 13 years ago and is now pregnant with her second child.

Eliciting the most envy are residents of Sweden, who are given 16 months of parental leave (it can be divided between the mother and father) while receiving 80 percent of their regular salary.

Ironically, Americans are the only citizens of a fully industrialized nation that receive less benefits in this regard than Israelis.

The United States has no set law on paid maternity leave, and at most provides expectant mothers who work at large companies with 12 weeks of job-protected leave.

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