President emmanuel macron has doubled frances paternity leave and will make fathers take at least one week off after their babies are born.

France will increase the amount of time off for new fathers from 14 days to 28 days, with allowances paid for by the state, and require fathers to take a week off with their newborn children in an effort to reduce inequalities in the first few months of childrens lives,

When a baby arrives in the world, there is no reason it should be just mother who takes care of it. its important that in that moment a couple ...has more equality in sharing the responsibility from the first day, mr macron said on wednesday before visiting a mother and child protection centre.

The planned reform will make france one of the more generous countries in europe, where the average length of paternity leave is slightly more than 12 days, according to the eu, but still lagging behind neighbours such as spain and portugal.

It brings france from a median place at european level to the peloton of the 5 most advanced countries on the subject next to finland, spain, portugal and slovenia, said the lyse.

The obligation to take one week of time off is driven by the fact that today just 67 per cent of fathers take up the option of paternity leave, according to the elyse.

There is further inequality within that figure, said adrien taquet, the minister for children and families, and one of the architects of the policy, with 80 per cent of fathers with long-term employment contracts taking paternity leave, compared with just 47 per cent of those on temporary contracts.

The measures will come into force next july and cost the state about 250m to 260m in the first year, rising to more than 500m from the year after.

Frances current paternity leave policy was put in place in 2002 by sgolne royal, then a minister in the government of jacques chirac, when she pushed for the existing right of three days to be extended to two weeks.

A year of consultations among officials, scientists and childcare professionals on the first thousand days of a childs life has led to a volley of reforms being proposed that will be announced in the coming weeks and months, including on training for nurses and midwives and education of new parents.

The doubling of paternity leave to 28 days is less ambitious than the nine weeks suggested by the author of the report into the first 1,000 days, which was led by neuropsychiatrist boris cyrulnik.

I think its an evolution, its a start, things are done gradually, they are not done suddenly, said mr cyrulnik on wednesday morning on radio station france inter.

Government budget constraints help explain why the paternity reforms took so long to come through. we cannot finance all the social rights we want and like everyone, we do not want to give up certain rights. therefore, that limits the possibilities of reform, which explains, i think, for example, paternity leave ... it suffered because of that, said hlne privier, an economist with the ofce.

However, mr taquet said that the doubling of the existing paternity leave should only be judged once the entire reform of parental leave has been outlined. it is the first step in a more global reform of the whole system of parental leave.

The plan is to replace the existing parental leave with a better paid but shorter period than the two to three years currently in place on top of maternity leave, with potentially another obligation for fathers to take time off.

We were lagging behind ... and it was time for france to catch up, to make sure that both parents were present for a child, said mr taquet.

I think that today there is a growing awareness in society, and maybe coming from the younger generations, of the need for a greater investment by fathers in the care of their children.