Cherie delivers paternity leave hint to her husband

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Indy Politics

Cherie Booth QC wants her husband to take his full two-week paternity entitlement after the birth of their fourth child in May.

Ms Booth, delivering a hard-hitting speech on working culture, said she expected Tony Blair to follow the lead of the prime minister of Finland, Paavo Lipponen.

She told her audience at King's College, London, last night she was "very pleased to report" Mr Lipponen had twice taken paternity leave.

"I, for one, am promoting the widespread adoption of his fine example," she said.

Earlier this month Mr Lipponen, 58, took a week of paternity leave to help care for his newborn daughter.

The Prime Minister's wife said: "It is time that men started to challenge the assumptions in the workplace that the nurturing of children has nothing to do with them. Our children need their male role models as well as their female ones."

Turning to the subject of the woman's lot in the workplace, Ms Booth said many women workers' lives were being made "intolerable".

She also called for a new statutory right for mothers to be allowed to return to their jobs on a part-time basis. Although there is a right to return to employment after maternity leave, it is at the discretion of the employer as to whether it is part-time work.

Ms Booth said research showed women workers were being financially penalised twice: once because of the pay-gap between men and women, and again for the time spent away from the workplace attending to domestic duties.