Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the rights would allow men to become more hands-on fathers and stop women feeling they have to choose between a career or a baby. He added that there should not be a "one-size-fits-all" approach.
Since April 2011, fathers and mothers have been able to share some of the 52 weeks' existing leave, with the father able to take up to six months beginning after the baby is 20 weeks old.
However, this can only be taken as a single block - as can the leave the mother takes.
Under the proposed new arrangement, first trailed last year, the existing 52 weeks of maternity leave, other than the first fortnight for a new mother's recovery, will be shared between the parents.
But, in an effort to allay fears of the impact on smaller firms, bosses will have to agree any proposed pattern of time off and will retain the right to insist it be confined to a continuous block, with no more than two subsequent changes.
Commenting on the announcement, Anne Longfield OBE, CEO of 4Children says:
“We are pleased to see support for something 4Children has long argued for: that our way of working has a long way to catch up with modern life and parents and families need much greater support and flexible working. Modern families expect to work out their care arrangements between parents and that is why it is so important that their working arrangements reflect that.
“Families tell us about the impossible choices they are forced to make between children, family and work. We need to turn all of our public services and businesses inside out to make them family friendly. Part-time and flexible working needs to become the norm and to be made available automatically to all parents in every workplace. As part of their plans, the Government should also consider introducing a kitemark scheme, to recognise family friendly employers and demonstrate the business benefits of working in such a way.”