An hour before the Coronavirus Committee was scheduled to discuss on Monday the issue of maternity benefits for women who have lost their jobs during the corona pandemic, Finance Minister MK Yisrael Katz (Likud) and National Insurance Institute Director General Meir Spiegler agreed to ensure that unemployed women will not lose their maternity benefits.
Under ordinary circumstances, women in Israel are entitled to 15 weeks of maternity leave, with their regular salaries paid by the NII. However, if the mother has not worked during the 10 months prior, she is generally not entitled to maternity payments. Additionally, she would also be barred from collecting unemployment benefits during the 15 weeks after birth because she is legally not allowed to work during that time.
This meant the mass layoffs taking place during the pandemic would have caused thousands of women to lose both their maternity benefits and their unemployment payments this year.
The Finance Ministry has now stipulated that women who had been unemployed or on unpaid leave for extended periods of time would be eligible for maternity benefits for babies born between January 1 and June 30 this year.
In light of the development, MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, chair of the Coronavirus Committee, said, “It is fortunate that the Corona Committee exists and puts such injustices on the public agenda. I am glad that following the hearing, the finance minister and the director general of the National Insurance Institute agreed on granting maternity benefits to pregnant women who have been hurt twice due to the crisis. We will continue to supervise and work to correct injustices.”
MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said the corona crisis has hurt mainly women, while MK Yoray Lahav Hertzanu (Yesh Atid-Telem) said the amendment to the law should have been made before the committee’s intervention.