Introduction:

Employees are entitled to take unpaid leave following the conclusion of paid maternity leave, and in certain cases, an employee's spouse may also take unpaid leave
A surrogate parent is also entitled to extended unpaid leave (in accordance with The Surrogate Motherhood Agreements Law) as is an adopting parent.
An employee may not be fired during their unpaid leave following maternity leave or within 60 days of returning to work after the unpaid leave without a special permit granted by the Ministry of Economy
If an employee was unlawfully fired during unpaid leave following maternity leave or within 60 days of returning to work after unpaid leave, s/he may sue the employer for compensation
For more information, see section 7d of the Womens' Employment Law


A woman (and in certain circumstances, her spouse) is entitled to take unpaid leave following the conclusion of her maternity leave.

  • Employees are entitled to take unpaid leave for up to a quarter of the total time they have worked for the same employer or at the same place of employment, but such a leave may not exceed one year from the date of birth.
Example
A woman who worked for 5 years at the same place of employment went on maternity leave. At the end of paid maternity leave, she took unpaid leave. Although the period of unpaid leave is 1/4 of the time the employee worked (1 year and 3 months, which is 1/4 of the 5 years she worked), in practice the period of unpaid leave concludes one year from the date of birth.
  • A woman who worked for the same employer or at the same place of employment for over a year (and is therefore eligible for a 26 week maternity leave) will have have her unpaid leave overlap with the 11 weeks of maternity leave that are beyond the first 15 weeks of maternity leave for which she is eligible for Maternity Allowance (Maternity Pay). (The unpaid leave will overlap accordingly in situations where the paid maternity leave is extended beyond 15 weeks.)
Example
  • A woman who worked for 2 years at the same place of employment takes a maternity leave of 26 weeks.
  • She is entitled to take unpaid leave for up to a quarter of the time she has worked at the same place of employment (up to 6 months).
  • The 11 weeks that the woman is on maternity leave, beyond the first 15 weeks, will be deducted from the 6 months of unpaid leave.
  • Section 7(d)(1) of the Women's Employment Law establishes that for the purposed of calculating the amount of time of unpaid leave, partial months will not be taken into account.
  • Example
    • A woman worked for 1 year and 24 days before going on maternity leave.
    • At the end of her maternity leave she is eligible to 3 months of unpaid leave and not 3 months and 6 days. For the purpose of calculating the unpaid leave time only a quarter of the year is counted and the part of the month is not taken into account.
    Example
    • A woman who worked half a year (6 months) and 20 days before going on maternity leave.
    • At the end of her maternity leave she is eligible to take up to 1.5 months of unpaid leave and not 1.5 months plus 5 days of unpaid leave. For the purpose of calculating the unpaid leave time partial months are not taken into account.
  • If the employee who took extended unpaid leave returns, or expresses the desire to return to work before the leave period is up, the employer is prohibited from pushing of the employee's return date for more than 4 weeks from the day he/she showed up to work or expressed the desire to return.
  • Tip
    An employee who works in more than one place and decides to take unpaid leave in one of his/her places of work can choose whether to take unpaid leave in the other place/s or to return to work in those places after maternity leave.

    Who is Eligible?

    • Employees who have gone on maternity leave.
    • The spouse of someone who has not gone on unpaid leave following maternity leave and who meets one of the following conditions:
    • His/her spouse was employed for at least 6 months immediately preceding his/her taking leave.
    • S/he is the sole custodian or is solely responsible for taking care of the child due to a disability or illness of his spouse.
    • Couples may split the benefit between themselves:
    • If the woman only utilized part of her maximum eligible amount of unpaid leave, her spouse can take unpaid leave for the remaining amount of time.
    • If the spouse took unpaid leave (and not his spouse - i.e. the mother) and he utilized only part of his maximum entitled amount of time, his spouse may take unpaid leave for the remaining amount of time.

    How to Claim It?

    • The employee must inform his/her boss regarding the intention to take unpaid leave.
      • The mother's spouse - In accordance with the Women's Employment Regulations (Requirement to give notice to the employer) - 1988), an employee that is the spouse of the mother, that requests to take unpaid leave after the birth, must give his employer written notice at least 15 days before starting the leave (as detailed below).
      • The mother - The law is silent regarding when the mother needs to give notice to her employer if she wishes to take unpaid leave. Generally when the law is silent it is interpreted to mean within a reasonable amount of time that will allow the employer to prepare for her absence. It is possible to infer from the regulations that the mother should also notify her employer at least 15 days before starting her unpaid leave.
      • In any event, if it is customary in the employee's workplace to give more than 15 days notice before taking unpaid leave, both the mother and her spouse are obligated to give their notification within the accepted time frame.
    • The employee must give the employer a notice signed by him and his spouse, 15 days before the start of the leave. If the child of the employee is in his sole care due to his wife's disability or illness, then only the worker must sign the notice and attach a medical records regarding his wife's disability or illness to the notice. (For an example of the text of the notice see the appendix of the regulations).
    • The employer is not entitled to prevent an employee from going on unpaid leave after maternity leave, and the employee is entitled to go on leave without requiring the consent of the employer. If an employer fires or detracts from the scope of the employee's job, the employee may file a claim for compensation.
    • A foreign worker interested in taking unpaid leave after maternity leave, must arrange in advance to extend her visitor's permit in Israel. For more information, see Unpaid Leave Following Maternity Leave for Foreign Workers.

    Firing an Employee on Unpaid Leave

    • It is forbidden for an employer to fire an employee during unpaid leave following maternity leave or within 60 days of returning to work after unpaid leave.
    • The period of advance notice of termination is not included in this period.
    • An employer wishing to fire an employee during this period must submit a request for a special permit to the office of the Minister of Labor and Welfare. Such permits are only granted if it has been determined that the firing is not connected to the birth, maternity leave, or permitted unpaid leave following maternity leave.
    • If an employee is unlawfully fired during unpaid leave following maternity leave or within 60 days of returning to work after unpaid leave, the firing is considered to have never occurred, and the employee is entitled to sue the employer for monetary compensation equivalent to the salary and benefits to which s/he would have been entitled had employee-employer relations continued as they were before the dismissal.

    Payment of National Insurance Institute Contributions

    • The employer must pay National Insurance contributions for the first two months following the end of the period during which a Maternity Allowance (Maternity Pay) is paid. The employer may deduct the amount owed for these contributions from money owed to the employee.
    • After the first 2 months, the employee is responsible for paying their own National Insurance contributions and must arrange for payment at the local National Insurance Institute branch.
    • The employee is only responsible for paying their own National Insurance contributions during unpaid leave for months in which s/he is on unpaid leave for the entire month. S/he is not required to pay National Insurance contributions in months for which she receives maternity pay or returned to work (even if s/he only worked one day out of the entire month).

    Termination of Pension Payments or Advanced Study Fund (Keren Hishtalmut)

    Please Note

    • The employee's period of absence during unpaid leave is not considered an employment period that counts toward entitlements dependent on tenure. Meaning, at the end of the maternity leave to which the employee is entitled by law and beginning with the unpaid leave, s/he ceases to accumulate tenure. The employee will begin accumulating tenure immediately upon returning from unpaid leave.
    • An employee who takes unpaid leave following maternity leave in order to care for his/her child is not entitled to unemployment benefits for the period of the leave.
    • According to Section 7(c2)(1) of the Women's Employment Law, in the following cases the employee can take unpaid leave without it affecting his tenure:
      • An employee whose spouse split her maternity leave because she was in the hospital for a least 15 days. For more information see Spouse's Absence from Work Due to Hospitalization of a New Mother (Unpaid Leave).
      • An employee who whose baby is in his sole custody. The employee can take unpaid leave from the day that child is in his sole custody for the amount of time which remains from the mother's maternity leave, or for the amount of the time the mother would have been eligible to.

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