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Changes 'could have gone further'
Coalition changes to legislation on parental leave could have gone further, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said.
Changes to the current laws, which will come into effect in 2015, aim to create a more flexible approach to parental leave in a huge shake-up to the current system.
Under the changes, the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees to encourage different work patterns for parents. The biggest change includes allowing mothers to trigger leave at any point so that whatever time is left to run on her original year off can be taken by her partner instead.
Addressing the Mumsnet Family Friendly Awards in central London, Mr Clegg said he felt the changes could have gone further.
He said: "I don't think we've made all the changes that I would like. For instance, in the long run it makes sense to offer to fathers a kind of use-it-or-lose-it block of paternity leave.
"All the evidence from Scandinavian countries and Germany and elsewhere (shows) that is the way it really transforms the behaviour of men taking up that crucial time in their child's early weeks and months. That's something we weren't able to do in one leap...I hope to be able to do it later."
Mr Clegg was speaking at the event which recognised companies including the National Trust, Metro Bank, Starcom MediaVest and The Manor Arms & The Abinger Hatch pubs which received gold awards at the Mumsnet Family Friendly Awards.
Judges said they were impressed by the National Trust's flexible working offer, Metro Bank's active recruitment of part-time staff, Starcom MediaVest's extensive support for mothers returning from work, and The Manor Arms & The Abinger Hatch's commitment to offering a family experience at both of their pubs.
Mumsnet CEO Justine Roberts said: "It is great to see so many companies embracing the idea that being family friendly can be good for business. Mumsnet users consistently tell us that flexibility at work is a priority, as is thoughtfulness about the challenges facing families when they are out and about.
"Many of our award winners have addressed these issues head on, and we're pleased to be making a difference, one company at a time."