An expert has warned that the government’s plan to extend rights to paternity leave is unlikely to win much support from the British business community and could prove difficult for smaller firms.

Work Wise UK chief executive Phil Flaxton pointed out that small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are likely to be particularly alarmed by the proposals, which could see key members of staff vacate their role for several months.

“If you are taking off five months or six months, I think that will be quite difficult for … smaller employers,” he explained. “I don’t think that way of thinking will gather a lot of support.”

However, Mr Flaxton added that paternity leave provisions have evolved rapidly over the last few years and insisted that the flexibility brought by successive reforms have been largely beneficial to British society.

The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development issued a cautious welcome to the plans and backed the government’s decision not to implement the changes until at least 2015 to allow for sufficient consultation.

Posted by Cameron Thomson