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Bosses 'must back parental leave'

Employers must throw their weight behind a new law which allows fathers of new babies to share parental leave with their partners - or it could quickly "run into the sand", a charity has said.

Parents of babies born from tomorrow can now split up to 52 weeks of shared parental leave between them as well as up to 39 weeks of statutory shared parental pay, Barnardo's said.

However, the charity is warning the legislation will not have the desired impact unless businesses give it their full backing.

Barnardo's believes the new measures will allow low-paid working families, where the mother is the higher earner, the opportunity to provide parental support for their child without worrying about losing their jobs.

The legislation applies equally for same-sex and adoptive couples.

Chief executive Javed Khan said: "Leave to look after children is not only a woman's issue. This law can spearhead a profound cultural change and tackle long-standing gender-biased attitudes to parenting.

"This will ensure even the most vulnerable children have parental support in the earliest stages of their life, regardless of whether their parents are in a same sex relationship or they are adopted.

"But there's a danger it could run into the sand quickly unless employers give it their full support.

"This entitlement must be met with a commitment from businesses to ensure employees understand their rights and suffer no stigma in the workplace for taking parental leave.

"The first year of a child's life is a precious time for the whole family. The bonds which fathers and mothers form with their babies must be strong enough to last a lifetime.

"All employers must allow fathers and mothers to spend time with their children without fear of discrimination or blighted career prospects."

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