​An hour before the Special Committee on the Novel Coronavirus was scheduled to discuss on Thursday the issue of maternity benefits for pregnant women who have lost their jobs during the corona pandemic, Finance Minister MK Israel Katz and National Insurance Institute Director-General Meir Spiegler agreed to ensure that unemployed women who give birth will not lose their maternity benefits.

Under ordinary circumstances, women in Israel are entitled to 15 weeks of maternity leave after giving birth, with their regular salaries paid by the NII. However, if the mother has not worked during the 10 months prior to the birth, 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.