Currently, mothers receive 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay; fathers receive just two weeks of leave and pay.
In 2011, Additional Parental Leave was introduced, allowing fathers to take an additional 26 weeks of leave and pay if the mother has returned to work.
Now, the DPM is set to announce that from April 2015 the civil service will offer equal occupational support, meaning that after the first two weeks have been taken by the mother as maternity leave, both mother and father can enter into shared parental leave.
The remaining 50 weeks will be shared between mother and father; the parents can choose to take their leave and receive statutory pay at the same time, or take it in alternating blocks.
According to guidance on gov.uk, employers “can’t turn down a request for a block of leave if the employee is eligible and gives you the right notice” of eight weeks.