Nick Clegg delivers radical reforms to shared parental leave and flexible working
The changes will deliver a long held Liberal Democrat commitment to make parental leave more flexible, allowing fathers to play a greater role in raising their child, helping mothers to return to work at a time that's right for them and creating more flexible workplaces to boost the economy.
It will signal one of the greatest advances for equality in recent years as gradually employers will get used to more men taking time off after their child is born, and more women returning to work, removing that often unspoken consideration that an employer has: if I hire this woman, or if I promote her, will she leave to have a child?
It will also help employers to attract and retain women in their organisations and preventing women dropping out of the workforce once they start a family.
New proposals are also announced today to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, to give greater choice and freedom to workers and businesses. For example, grandparents could apply for flexible working to help care for their grandchildren.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said:
"Liberal Democrats believe that our current system of maternity leave is out-of-date and out-of-step with the wishes of modern parents who want much greater flexibility in how they look after their children.
"I believe reform is long overdue and the changes we are making will shatter the perception that women have to be the primary care-givers. In the future, both mothers and fathers will be able to take control of how they balance those precious first months with their child and their careers.
This is good news not only for parents and parents-to-be, but employers too who will benefit from a much more flexible and motivated workforce."
Commenting further, Liberal Democrat Minister for Employment Relations, Jo Swinson, said:
"Liberal Democrats believe that if we are to deliver sustainable, strong growth we need to get the best out of both men and women in the workforce.
"Current arrangements are old-fashioned, inflexible and gender-biased. People should have the right to choose how they balance their work and family commitments.
"These proposals bring good news for business - not least a more motivated and productive workforce. Employers will be able to recruit and retain staff from a wider pool of talent in turn helping to diversify our economy and drive growth."