The government has announced it will consult on new regulations entitling mothers to divide some of their maternity leave with their child's father.
The new provision will be available during the second six months of the child's life and would be an option if the mother has maternity leave outstanding and wants to return to work.
Under the scheme, parents will be required to 'self certify' by providing details of their eligibility to their employer. Employers and HMRC will both be able to carry out further checks of entitlement if necessary.
Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, said: "Mothers will be able to choose to transfer the last six months of their maternity leave to the father, with three months paid.
"This gives families radically more choice and flexibility in how they balance work and care of children, and enables fathers to play a bigger part in bringing up their children," she added.
In order to give employers time to adjust it will be introduced for parents of children due on or after 3 April 2011.
The government says the scheme has been designed in a way that minimises the administrative burdens on business and estimates take-up of Additional Paternity Leave will be less than 6 per cent.