Good start but parents' leave 'still under par'

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2014
Natalie Gousmett
NEW LIFE: Natalie Gousmett and 2-month-old Nova at their home in Nelson. Gousmett says it is great the Government has increased the paid parental leave provisions ‘‘but it’s still quite minimal’’.

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First-time mum Natalie Gousmett says the Government's announcement on paid parental leave is a good start, but not nearly enough.

"It's great they've increased it and made it a priority, but it's still quite minimal and doesn't put us on par with a lot of those countries in the world which we know have really good outcomes for children."

Two months after having their baby, Nova, Gousmett and partner Drew McGlashen are almost out of their paid parental leave entitlement and will be back on one income - a teacher's salary - shortly. They sold their house in Wellington last year and moved to Nelson to make it work.

"Being in Wellington on a single salary wasn't going to be affordable for us . . . For us the fact that paid parental leave was not a very high amount per week, and is only for 14 weeks, presented us with some difficult decisions."

Gousmett said the family was not experiencing hardship, but still faced tough choices - they would have preferred to have been at home for the first six months or year of their baby's life without worrying.

It would make sense to set the starting point for leave at six months - the time the World Health Organisation recommends babies are exclusively breastfed.

"It takes away the rights of the parents to make a choice and the rights of the child to have their parents around."

By contrast, her sister, who lives in Canada, would be entitled to 50 weeks maternity and paid parental leave that could be shared with her partner.

"For her and her partner, both skilled New Zealanders, that's a factor for them in terms of when they might come back."

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- The Dominion Post

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