New dads are to be given the same rights as mums to have paid time off work to look after their babies.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said from April 2015 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.
Under the changes, the existing 52 weeks of maternity leave, other than the first fortnight for a new mother's recovery, will be shared between the parents.
Anyone taking total leave of six months or less over the period will be legally entitled to return to the same job.
Mr Clegg said: "Women deserve the right to pursue their goals and not feel they have to choose between having a successful career or having a baby.
"They should be supported by their employers, rather than being made to feel less employable or under pressure to take unchallenging jobs.
"It is already illegal to sack a woman because she is pregnant, or on maternity leave, but we want to go further than that. We want to create a fairer society that gives parents the flexibility to choose how they share care for their child in the first year after birth.
"We need to challenge the old-fashioned assumption that women will always be the parent that stays at home, many fathers want that option too."
Mr Clegg added: "There shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all approach; that's not how families are set up. Many businesses already recognise how productive and motivated employees are when they're given the opportunity to work flexibly, helping them retain talent and boost their competitive edge.
"This is good for families, good for business and good for our economy."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady added: "Shared parental leave is a welcome new step that should encourage more fathers to get involved in childcare from the very beginning.
"But unless it is backed up with better pay, many couples simply won't be able to afford to take it."
Suggested For You
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more