The Government will reveal radical plans to give new dads almost six months' paid paternity leave today.
Currently, new mothers can take 12 months off work, of which nine months are paid. Fathers receive two weeks' paid leave.
Under the plans, a new mother will automatically receive five months' paid leave, and fathers will receive an extra four weeks, taking it to six weeks in total.
There will also be an introduction of 'shared' paternal leave: a couple will be allowed to divide another seven months – four months of which is paid – between them.
This could mean that fathers will be allowed to take five and a half months paid leave after the birth of their child by using up some of the mother's entitlement.
They could also take another three months unpaid leave – if the mother returned to work after five months.
Alternatively, both the mother and the father could take six months' off work each at the same time, much of it paid, to look after their new baby.
Mums and dads will also be able to take their leave in segments of a few weeks or months at a time.
The new plans are part of a "modern workplaces" consultation, which is being launched today.
The Government will also announce plans to expand the right to ask to work from home to all adults. Currently the right is confined to those with children aged less than 17 years of age.
The parental leave plans will require an Act of Parliament and should be introduced from April 2015. The flexible working plans should be in force by 2013.
Katja Hall, Chief Policy Director of the CBI, the UK business organisation, commented: 'The absolute priority for the country today is to grow businesses and create jobs. This is how we will judge the merits of these proposals as we consult with companies.
'Employees and employers often informally agree working patterns that suit both parties and the Government is right to look at ways of encouraging this by removing unnecessary bureaucracy.
'Parental leave should be open to both parents, be simple to administer and allow employers to reject complex patterns of leave.
"We are concerned by proposals to increase the total period of parental leave by another four weeks, given the UK already offers some of the most generous provisions in the world.'
What do you think?
About time the UK started taking the role of dads seriously?
Or will this be disastrous for small businesses and unfair on colleagues who have to cover for workmates?
More:Advice And Health
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