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Making it easier for Mum

7 March 2005

Making it easier for Mum to spend time with the kids

International Women's Day tomorrow is a perfect opportunity to push for concrete steps making it easier for women to spend time with their children, the Green Party says.

"More and more mothers are finding it impossible to spend enough time with their kids," said Green Women's Affairs Spokesperson Sue Kedgley.

"Rather than pushing more and more women into the workforce, the Government should be working much harder to reduce the stress experienced by parents, especially mothers, who have to juggle parenting and paid work. We have heard a lot of rhetoric about work-life balance, but no real measures have been implemented to encourage and support parents who want to work part-time when their children are young."

Ms Kedgley has a Private Member's Bill in the ballot which would guarantee that parents could work flexibly or part-time, without financial penalty, while their children are under five.

"The pressure of trying to work full-time and care for young children at the same time is putting a huge strain on parents, usually mothers, and young children. It is in everyone's interests that we help parents with young children to live more balanced lives.

"Women, who are usually the main caregivers of children and frequently burdened with the stress of doing both paid work and the bulk of the domestic labour, would benefit greatly from being able to have more flexible working arrangements while their kids are young."

Ms Kedgley said her Bill would give employees with young children the right to request reduced, part-time or flexible hours. Employers would have a legal duty to consider any such requests seriously, and must be able to demonstrate good reasons for a refusal.

"It will not only make life better and more enriching for parents and children, but will also benefit employers. Overseas studies show that family-friendly strategies in the workplace reduce staff turnover and recruitment costs. They also reduce absentee rates, and improve morale, employee loyalty and workplace productivity."

Ms Kedgley said another step the Government should be taking on International Women's Day is to help home-care and residential-care workers.

"The Government should also be announcing a commitment to significantly increase the wages of these mostly female workers, who are on poverty-line wages. They should be given pay parity with health care assistants working for DHBs, who recently received a 20 percent pay increase."


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