Plans for shared parental leave have come under threat from opposition groups leading to fears the changes may be shelved.
Under the Children and Families Bill (due to be published in 2013) parents will be able to share parental leave. The first 18 weeks of paid leave would be for mothers and the following 34 weeks could be shared between both parents.
Opposition groups have argued that this could encourage women to return to work too quickly and have a negative consequence on their health and access to jobs. Business groups have also suggested that this will put a greater burden on companies and make the system more complicated.
Supporters argue that the scheme gives parents greater flexibility and mothers can still take the full time allowance if they do not wish to share it with the father.