Shared maternity leave 'planned by 2015'

Shared maternity leave 'planned by 2015'

Fathers will be eligible for maternity leave and pay by 2015 under plans to be unveiled by the government later this month, the Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

Under the proposal, parents will be able to decide who receives the employee benefit for the first year of their baby’s life, allowing the main household earner, if the mother, to return to work within two weeks of giving birth.

The “flexible parental leave” scheme has been pushed back to October 2015 over fears it could harm the country’s stuttering economic recovery, according to the report.

State-provided child benefit payments will still automatically be given to the mother unless an application is made to transfer it to their partner.

Mothers will only be required to take leave for two weeks after giving birth, for health reasons, after which fathers will then qualify for leave and pay, the Telegraph reported.

Currently, female employees are entitled to a year of maternity leave, 39 weeks of which is paid.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills estimates that 13,500 couples would be in line to take advantage of the scheme.

“This is being introduced slowly and with great care to ensure that it does not undermine business during the difficult economic times,” a government source told the paper.

It is hoped the proposals will make it less common for employers not to hire women of child-bearing age because of maternity rights, a trend Prime Minister David Cameron previously called “completely unacceptable.”

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