Reports have suggested that the government may give fathers the right to take paid leave to look after a new baby, allowing mothers to return to work, just two weeks after giving birth.

At present, fathers can take two weeks paternity leave after the birth paid at a flat rate. Then, if their partner decides to return to work early from maternity leave, at least 20 weeks after the birth, fathers can take leave for the balance of the maternity leave period up to 26 weeks.

The current intention is to broaden this to allow fathers to take paid leave from work when their baby is just two weeks old.

That would mean that fathers could take almost a year off. They would be paid a flat rate of benefit similar to the maternity allowance that is now paid to women.

However it’s clear that some members of the government are concerned that the proposal will act as a burden to businesses still struggling with recession.

The proposal would probably apply to adoptive couples as well and may be attractive to couples where the mother earns considerably more than her partner.

We will update you on the proposals when the government issues its formal response to the consultation process that has been under way.

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Updates: For employers: Family rights and flexible working | For employees: Family rights and flexible working |

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