Fathers across the UK should been given an extra month of paid parental leave in a bid for couples to share child-related responsibilities, the Liberal Democrats announced on Friday 12 May.

The party said it will build on shared parental leave, which was introduced as part of the Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition government.

"More needs to be done in order to encourage men to take leave when they become a dad, to bond with their child during the early weeks and months of their life," said Jo Swinson, the former junior equalities minister.

"Research shows that fathers being more involved in their children's lives is good for children's development and good for the health and happiness of the whole family.

"That is why the Liberal Democrats want to give dads across the country the chance to spend more time with their children.

"A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to change the direction of this country. If you want an open, tolerant and united Britain, this is your chance."

A 2016 survey from HR organisation the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that just 5% of fathers opted for shared parental leave (SPL). The research also found that just 7% of employers offered more generous time off than the statutory two-week minimum requirement for paternity leave.

"Shared parental leave was a milestone for gender equality when it was introduced last year [2015]," said Rachel Suff, employment relations adviser at the CIPD.

"The intentions were right, and on paper it gives new parents much more choice and flexibility about taking leave to look after a new baby, particularly if the mother is the higher earner and if dads want to play a bigger role in their child's early life.

"However, the complexity of the rules and the financial gap between statutory maternity pay and statutory shared parental pay in the early weeks are clearly outweighing these positives in reality for many. Government needs to look at what steps can be taken to ensure SPL can bring a step change on the ground in the UK."

The Liberal Democrats' manifesto commitment comes just over three weeks before the general election on 8 June. The latest YouGov poll, of more than 1,600 people between 9 and 10 May, put Tim Farron's party on 6%, 1.9% behind its share of the vote at the 2015 general election.