Clegg loses battle on paternity leave

Clegg loses battle on paternity leave

The Deputy Prime Minister has admitted that he lost a battle in cabinet over plans to give fathers six weeks of paid paternity leave.

Nick Clegg has unveiled a new legal right for fathers to take unpaid time off to attend two antenatal classes with their partner, while he has also confirmed that from 2015 parents will be able to share the 12 months of paternity leave between them so that mothers will be able to return to work leaving the father looking after the baby if that is their preferred option.

In a speech to working parents in London, Clegg admitted that extending paternity leave was an option he preferred but, following opposition from Conservatives and among the business community, it was agreed that it should be revisited only when the economy is in a stronger state. He said however that shared parental leave will help put an end to a “career penalty” on mothers who often feel more pressure to return to work than fathers.

The Deputy PM’s announcement comes after proposals were announced that will, if implemented, give all workers the right to request flexible working; a controversial measure which has been condemned by business leaders who have expressed their opposition to more potential changes to working patterns.

Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the proposals could well cause unnecessary friction between parents and employers and would raise unrealistic expectations about the level of flexibility most businesses will be able to accommodate.