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Oliver H., 42, a married federal employee on 6-month paternity leave, feeds his twin 14-month-old daughters Alma a snack while his other daughter Lotte looks on at a playground. - 


JEREMY HOBSON: In the U.S., new mothers get about three months unpaid maternity leave. But in Britain, they get six months and still receive some salary. Starting in April, new British fathers will get to take extended leave if their spouse goes back to work early.

As the BBC's Rebecca Singer reports, businesses in the UK aren't crazy about the plan.

REBECCA SINGER: At the moment men get two weeks' paid paternity leave after the birth of a child, but from April they could be away from the office for as many as six months.

Andrew Cave is from the Federation for Small Businesses. He says this could be disastrous for his members and a bad thing for the economy.

ANDREW CAVE: The average business in this country employs four people. At the moment, if you lose a quarter of your workforce, it is very problematic. The government is introducing disincentives for businesses to take on more staff, just as they're saying that small businesses will be creating the jobs in the future.

But the government says the current rules are old fashioned -- with mums taking on the bulk of the childcare while men miss out on time with their children.

And they believe spending time with your kids in the early stages helps with a child's development at home and in school.

In London, I'm the BBC's Rebecca Singer for Marketplace.