Government to introduce shared parental leave

Nick Clegg will reveal new proposals allowing fathers flexible extended paternity leave

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, plans to move forwrad with a new scheme that will allow couples to share maternity leave.

The current situation, which Clegg has described as ‘Edwardian’, allows fathers to take just two weeks off after the birth of their child.

‘Too many of these parents feel trapped by the current rigid rules,’ says Clegg. ‘More and more fathers want to play a hands-on role with their young children but too many feel that they can’t.’

The government’s new scheme, which will be introduced in April, will offer greater flexibility for parents.

Under the new initial proposal, fathers will be encouraged to take up to six months of any unused maternity leave if their wives return to work early.

Clegg will also reveal plans to introduce a ‘proper’ shared parental scheme in 2015 where parents will be able to use leave in a number of chunks, or take up to five months of paid leave together if they prefer.

Increased paternity leave, which was originally proposed by the Labour government, has been welcomed by parenting experts.

Employers, however, have criticised the idea, fearing that extended paternity leave could damage small firms and should be exempted from the new rules.

‘Measures like these will make it more difficult for businesses to function,’ says Andrew Cave, from the Federation of Small Businesses. ‘It shows a complete lack of understanding of how small businesses operate and the pressures that are placed on employers with the existing maternity rules.’

Do you think the new proposals are a good idea, or are you in agreement that they will damage businesses? Let us know by posting your comment below.

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