On Wednesday, Transport Minister MeravMichaeli and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman announced that in order to reduce the wage gap between women and men, an expanded paid paternity leave plan would also be included in the next state budget. According to the plan proposed, fathers will be allowed to take paid paternity leave 15 weeks after the child’s birth. They will be given two weeks of full pay by the government, provided that the mothers also return to work at the same time. Under the current law, fathers can take paid paternity leave of one week immediately after the birth of a child and most of the new fathers do take this leave.
According to the ministers, they will agree on a final plan regarding paternity leave by June 16th when the final budget has to be submitted to the government, assuming that the struggling coalition is able to last that long. Liberman stated that giving equal rights to men and women related to paternity leave would reduce the ‘negative incentive’ associated with hiring mothers, as it will put equal responsibility on both fathers and mothers to take care of newborns. The Finance Ministry had conducted a study, which showed that there is a 30% decline in the wages of first-time mothers when they return to work.
This is mostly because they cut down their long working hours. The wages of the mothers are still 28% lower than that of fathers, even a decade after they have given birth. One of the explicit recommendations of the study was to provide equal paternity leave conditions to fathers as a solution for reducing the wage gap. Liberman said at a press conference said that reducing the wage gap between women and men was one of the ‘cornerstones’ of the new budget and the changes would help in reducing the negative incentive associated with hiring mothers.
A staunch feminist, Michaelihas been advocating for women’s rights during her political career. She said that the new plan was the outcome of a vision she has been battling for 2 decades. Leader of the Labor party, she said that one change could have an influence on multiple fronts simultaneously. She added that paternity leave was that change and said that the bond between the child and parent strengthens during paternity leave. The ministers said that fathers would also be able to engage in active parenting due to paternity leave and develop a close connection with the baby.
The wage calculation for fathers would be done the same way as that of mothers. This means that they would be based on the highest-earning ten months from the 14 months before they stop coming into work, or 15 months out of the last 22 months. Women are paid their full salary for 15 weeks and fathers have the option of replacing the mother for nine weeks. However, mothers have to return to work for that to happen. The statement said that only 1% of fathers actually use this right.