Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife, Cherie, is leading a campaign for men to be paid paternity leave. Mrs Blair is obviously hoping her husband will take time off from running the country to help with their new baby, which is expected in early May. A highly regarded employment lawyer, Mrs Blair this week used a speech at a legal conference to remind her husband that elsewhere in Europe other national leaders had taken time out to be with their families. Finland's Prime Minister, Paavo Lipponen, 58, is on paternity leave to help care for his new daughter - his second child in two years. Finland has more liberal employment laws than Britain, but Mrs Blair said she hoped Mr Lipponen's example would be seen as a model for men elsewhere in Europe to take a more active role in raising their children. 'I, for one, am promoting this very activity in the UK,' Mrs Blair 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.' She criticised the long hours mothers were forced to work and said the lives of many working women were made difficult and sometimes intolerable by the employment environment. Mrs Blair, 45, has won widespread respect for the way in which she has managed to juggle the dual roles of her own legal career with that of being the Prime Minister's wife while winning plaudits for the time she takes to care for her three young children. Friends note she still manages to find time to attend school functions and has always made it clear that she puts the welfare of children Euan, 15, Nicky, 14, and Kathryn, 11, above all other commitments. Like Hillary Clinton, she is regarded as being more left wing than her husband and has on occasion spoken out on women's rights, particularly in matters regarding employment law. Political observers have noted that there will be pressure for Mr Blair to set an example to other fathers by taking paternity leave. In Britain, there is no obligation for men to be paid if they take time out to care for a new baby, although the European Social Contract requires them to be given unpaid paternity leave.