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Plans for flexible parental leave

Plans for flexible parental leave

The Government is consulting on proposals that would allow parents to share their overall maternity and paternity leave allowance between them in a bid to introduce a more flexible system that reflects more modern-day notions of family life.

Unlike the current system the leave could be taken in a number of different periods and both parents could take leave at the same time.

The proposals have caused concern among business leaders, who say small firms will be hit "hard" as they are forced to cover an extra four weeks of parental leave.

However, Business Secretary Vince Cable tried to provide reassurances, saying the plans will offer the flexibility to find arrangements to suit bosses and employees.

This would include the ability for firms to ensure the leave is taken in one continuous block if agreement cannot be reached with their employees, or asking staff to come back to work for short periods to cover times of peak demand.

Cable said: "Our proposals will encourage greater choice by giving employees and their employers the flexibility to find arrangements to suit them both.

"Of course I'm mindful of the need to minimise the costs, bureaucracy and complexities on businesses, so we will ensure that businesses will still be able to take into account their needs when agreeing how leave can be taken."

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