The Government has published the Children and Families Bill, which details reforms to the manner in which parents can share leave following the birth of a child, together with the extension of flexible working rights.
The new system will still allow women to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. However, should they wish, women can choose to return to work following an initial two-week period, after which the parents can decide how they will share the remaining leave between them.
Fathers will also gain the right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments.
A new statutory payment will apply to parents taking shared parental leave, which will be subject to the same qualifying requirements as those applying to statutory maternity and paternity pay. The new rights to pay and leave will also apply to adoptive parents.