Israel: A Female Employee Notifies She Is Pregnant – A Few Important Facts!

Last Updated: 2 November 2017
Article by Marie Tsion

Has one of your employees notified you that she is pregnant? Here are a few points you should know:

Permitted absence during pregnancy for the purpose of medical monitoring

Any female employee who works up to four hours per day during a five-day workweek is entitled to be absent for up to 20 hours during a single pregnancy.

Any female employee who works more than four hours per day during a five-day workweek is entitled to be absent for up to 40 hours during a single pregnancy.

Changing the percentage/scope of employment or wage of a pregnant employee

If a female employee has been employed by the same employer or at the same workplace for at least six months, her employer is prohibited from adversely changing her percentage/scope of employment or her wage, unless a special permit obtained from the Ministry of Labor.

Dismissal of a female employee during pregnancy

If a female employee has been employed by the same employer or at the same workplace for at least six months, her employer is prohibited from dismissing her, for any reason whatsoever, unless a special permit obtained from the Ministry of Labor. The dismissal of a pregnant employee without having obtained such a permit not only constitutes grounds for a lawsuit, it also constitutes a violation of the law.

A dismissal permit may be obtained from the Ministry of Labor only if the employer succeeds in proving there is no connection between the dismissal and the pregnancy. However, even if the employer does prove there is no connection, there is no guarantee a permit will be issued.

It is important to note that even if the female employee has worked for less than six months, and the law does not require her employer to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Labor in order to dismiss her, if her dismissal is related to her pregnancy, she may sue the employer on the grounds of discrimination. Therefore, in any event, her dismissal must be for legitimate reasons.

Maternity leave and subsequent leave without pay

Duration of maternity leave

  • If a female employee has been employed by the same employer for at least one year on the day of the childbirth, then she is entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave, 15 of which are paid by the National Insurance Institute (while the remainder of the period is deemed leave without pay).
  • If a female employee has been employed by the same employer for less than one year on the day of the childbirth, then she is entitled to only 15 weeks of maternity leave.
  • In the event of the birth of more than one child, or if the mother or newborn is hospitalized, then she is entitled to a longer maternity leave.

Extending maternity leave as leave without pay

Every female employee is allowed to extend her maternity leave by the number of months equivalent to about one quarter of her months of seniority, up to a maximum of one year, according to the calculation principles prescribed in the law.

Maternity leave for male employees

Employers should know that a male employee who becomes a father is also entitled to maternity leave. He may elect to be absent for five days immediately after the birth of his child, on account of accumulated sick days and vacation days. Subsequently, an option also exists for the new father to actually take maternity leave instead of his wife, or together with her, upon fulfilling a number of criteria prescribed in the law.

Payment to provident funds during maternity leave

If a female employee worked for the employer throughout her entire pregnancy, as well as for the six months that preceded her pregnancy, then her employer is obligated to continue making deposits to the female employee's provident funds also during the period when she receives maternity leave pay from the National Insurance Institute. The same rule also applies to a female employee during a high-risk pregnancy, during which she receives a high-risk pregnancy benefit from the National Insurance Institute. Employers must comply with special regulations in this regard, and they must also issue a notice in this regard to the employee during her pregnancy.

Returning to work

A female employee may shorten the duration of her maternity leave:

  • If a female employee wishes to shorten her maternity leave so that it will be shorter than 26 weeks but not less than 15 weeks, her employer cannot postpone her return to work for more than three weeks after the date of her notice that she wishes to return to work.
  • If a female employee has extended her maternity leave to leave without pay, and then later desires to shorten her leave without pay, her employer cannot postpone her return to work for more than four weeks after the date of her notice that she wishes to return to work.

As long as a female employee is absent by virtue of the law and is on maternity leave or on a subsequent leave without pay, her employer is obligated to hold her position and workspace for her. Her employer may recruit a temporary replacement for her during her absence, but when she returns to work, she must be reinstated in her position.

Employers are prohibited from dismissing a female employee for 60 days after her return to work, unless they obtain a permit from the Ministry of Labor. Such a permit may be issued only if the employer can prove the female employee's dismissal has no bearing on the period of her absence and, additionally, only if the employer ceases to operate.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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