Employers and working families have been asked for their input on the detail of how the new system for shared parental leave will work.
An initial consultation, launched today, will look at how the current arrangements for maternity and paternity leave and pay will fit together with the new system of shared parental leave and pay, published earlier this month in the Children and Families Bill.
From 2015, mothers will be able to end their maternity leave and pay, and share the untaken balance of leave and pay as "flexible parental leave" with their partner. Parents will be able to share 50 weeks' leave and 37 weeks' pay that is now only available to the mother. Similar arrangements will apply to adoptive parents.
Employment relations minister Jo Swinson said: "This consultation will ensure we get the detail right for business and families on how these new proposals will work. The first thought we always had when designing this system was that it did not add significant burdens to business and was as simple as possible for everyone to use."
During the consultation, the Government will be seeking views on the details of eligibility criteria and the benefits of aligning notice periods to inform employers of the intention to take paternity leave and pay. Also in discussion will be whether parents should have one year from the start of maternity leave or one year from the child's birth date to use of shared parental leave and pay.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "A new system of shared parental leave is not only good news for parents and parents-to-be, but for employers who will benefit from having a workforce that is more flexible and motivated."
The Bill also introduced the right to time off work for antenatal care and the right to request a flexible work pattern.
Sarah Hogg, associate at law firm Fasken Martineau and updating author for XpertHR's employment law manual, said: "This proposal will be welcomed by prospective parents as it provides greater flexibility to determine the childcare arrangements that best suit their particular situation.
"It is a timely move away from the outdated and old-fashioned notion that men will always be the chief breadwinners and that it is the woman's role to stay at home and look after the children."
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