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Maternity leave for a foreign worker (legal information)

Joshua Pex
Joshua Pex

Is a foreign worker in Israel entitled to maternity leave? The attorneys in our office specialize in the area of foreign workers, so they are often asked about this. In general, many of the rights to which female workers in Israel are entitled are equally applicable to female foreign workers. However, in practice, foreign workers are often unaware of their rights and do not exercise them. To clear up any confusion, in this short article we will explain the rights of maternity leave for a foreign worker in Israel.

Our office, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in labor law, including the issue of the rights of pregnant workers. Our attorneys provide comprehensive and professional legal assistance to foreign workers and employers. The office offers a variety of legal services in the area of foreign workers, include representation in proceedings for arranging work visas and employment permits in Israel, representation before committees and courts, exercising the rights of foreign workers, and providing legal advice and support to foreign workers and employers.

Maternity leave for a foreign worker

Exercising the rights of pregnant foreign workers — a complex legal issue

There are tens of thousands of female foreign workers in Israel. The main sector in which female foreign workers are employed is nursing, but they also work in other sectors such as hotels, industry, etc. Also, female workers often come to Israel as foreign experts. One of the main legal issues that specifically concerns female foreign workers is that of becoming pregnant during their stay in Israel. Such cases raise many questions regarding the foreign workers’ rights, such as the question of whether they can stay in Israel, entitlement to maternity leave and other rights, etc. Beyond that, the question arises of the legal status of the foreign worker’s children. Below we will answer frequently asked questions on the subject.

Is a pregnant foreign worker allowed to stay in Israel?

Even before the birth, an interesting legal question arises regarding a foreign worker who became pregnant in Israel. In the past, foreign workers were often forced to leave Israel after becoming pregnant. This is in light of the visa conditions set by the Interior Ministry. However, in a precedent-setting ruling of the Supreme Court, it was determined that foreign female workers who so wish should be allowed to stay in Israel with their children. This led to revision of the Interior Ministry protocol on this issue. The current protocol stipulates that pregnant foreign workers may choose whether to stay with their children in Israel for the period allowed by law for their stay, or to leave the country with their children and return alone for work (using a special permit called an “inter-visa“).

Does Israeli law grant maternity leave and other rights for a pregnant foreign worker?

The Women’s Labor Law, which determines the rights of pregnant workers, also applies to female foreign workers who are legally residing in Israel. Accordingly, foreign workers are generally entitled to maternity leave. Even before going on leave, female foreign workers are entitled to many protections that the law provides, such as a ban on overtime employment after the fifth month of their pregnancy, a ban on their dismissal during pregnancy (except in extremely unusual cases), and the option to go to all the medical tests required by law. It is important that employers be aware of these rights, as failure to implement them may establish grounds for a compensation claim, and in some cases even lead to criminal prosecution.

What is the legal status of children of female foreign workers?

The answer to the question depends quite a bit on the identity of the father. When the father is an Israeli citizen, the shared children will also be able to apply for legal status in Israel. However, the Interior Ministry will generally require that a paternity test be conducted in order to arrange this status. When the father is a foreign worker, immigrant or foreign citizen, the children will usually be given a tourist visa (known as a B-2 visa). This visa only allows children to stay in Israel temporarily, usually together with their mothers. Later, it may be possible to extend the children’s stay using a temporary residence visa (known as the A-5 visa). In order to clarify the exact status of foreign workers’ children in individual cases, it is advisable to consult with a labor law attorney who specializes in the field of foreign workers.

Contact an attorney specializing in immigration to Israel and the area of foreign workers

For any question or issue that arises regarding the employment of nursing workers or other foreign workers in Israel, you can contact our law office. An attorney specializing in immigration law for the nursing sector will be happy to provide you with comprehensive legal assistance on this and a variety of other issues.

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