Nick Clegg has outlined plans to press ahead in April with changes to allow couples to share maternity leave.
The new scheme, first proposed by the last government, will let a father take up any remaining unpaid leave if their partner goes back to work early.

In a speech to the Demos think-tank he said the government would consult on a "proper" system of shared parental leave to be introduced in 2015. He said it was vital that reforms to parental leave helped not only the rich, but also ordinary working families in what he calls "alarm clock Britain".

"Too many of these parents feel trapped by the current rigid rules," he said. Rules allowing men "a paltry" two weeks of paternity leave, "patronise women and marginalise men".
Changes due in April mean that if a mother returns to work without taking a full year's maternity leave the father will be able to take the remaining time, up to a maximum of six months.

Mr Clegg said: "But we want to go further. We know that men need to be actively encouraged to take time off. And often parents want more flexibility than these arrangements will allow.
"So in the coming weeks we will be launching a consultation on a new properly flexible system of shared parental leave, that we aim to introduce in 2015. I would have liked it to be sooner. But getting this right will take time. "

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