Couples to share parental leave

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Credit: PA

Parents will be able to share up to a year's leave to look after newborn children under new reforms that have just been announced.

Nick Clegg said that from 2015 the UK will move to a new system of flexible parental leave as part of a huge shake-up.

The Deputy Prime Minister has announced the following reforms:

  • A new mother will be able to take flexible leave whenever she wants, after the first fortnight's recovery period.

  • Both parents can divide up the remaining 50 weeks between them in any way they like.

  • Each parent could take leave separately, in different chunks, or together.

  • The maximum leave you can take will stay at 12 months, nine of which will be on guaranteed pay.

  • Parents will have to be "open" with employers and give them "proper notice" before taking leave.

  • Paternity is still fixed at a fortnight but this will be reviewed in 2018.

  • Fathers-to-be can claim unpaid leave to go to two antenatal appointments.

Current rules for maternity and paternity leave:

  • New mothers can take a total of 52 weeks of leave after the birth of a baby.

  • New fathers can take a fortnight of statutory paternity leave.

  • Since April 2011, fathers and mothers have had the option to share some of the mother's 52 weeks' leave and the father can take a maximum of six months starting after the child is 20 weeks old.

  • But both the father's and mother's leave can only be taken in one chunk.