Fathers will get up to 10 months of paid paternity leave under new government plans.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg outlined the plans today for the extended paid paternity leave, with backing from Prime Minister David Cameron.

In announcing the changes, Clegg condemned “Edwardian” attitudes to childcare and traditional family roles.

However, business leaders have described the paternity leave extension – Clegg’s key coalition demand – as a “complete nightmare”.

Parents will be allowed to divide between them almost all of the existing 12 months of maternity leave.

They may even be able to split the time off into stretches as short as a few weeks.

Clegg, who has often spoke about his desire to be a more hands-on dad to his three children, described it as “madness” to deny men the chance to stay at home and look after their children while mothers go back to work.

At present, women are entitled to six weeks of maternity leave on 90 per cent pay, followed by 33 weeks on statutory maternity pay of £125 a week.

In total, women can remain off work for up to a year. Men are allowed two weeks of paternity leave, on statutory pay.

Andrew Cave, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘This is the wrong measure at the wrong time.

‘The Government says it wants businesses to take on more staff but this sort of thing just throws up more obstacles. Maternity leave is already the most complex aspect of employment law for many businesses and this risks making it a complete nightmare.”