Protecting Pregnant Workers

22 April 2020

Arab Jewish mothers photo from Times of IsraelThanks to pressure from NIF grantees, the Israeli cabinet has reversed a decision allowing pregnant women to be put on unpaid leave due to the COVID-19 crisis. The cabinet backtracked following petitions to the Supreme Court, which were filed by several Israeli human rights organizations, including many NIF grantees.

One petition was from the Forum of Employees Rights Organizations, which includes NIF grantees the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Kav LaOved – Worker’s Hotline, Itach-Maaki: Women Lawyers for Social Justice, and the Israel Women’s Network (IWN). A second petition against the regulation was filed by NIF grantee Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights.

The Israeli Labor Law of 1954 states that an employer cannot fire a woman who is pregnant, undergoing fertility treatment, or on maternity leave. However, this law was suspended last month under emergency regulations due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adalah attorney Sawsan Zaher said, “There was no justification for the legitimization of causing such harm to women’s rights that are anchored in law, particularly not by using emergency regulations.”