A woman in New Zealand was told to find a full-time job after giving birth to her baby eight weeks after. The single parent failed to attend to her scheduled Work and Income appointment.
Leanne Griffin, 39, went to the Albany office of Work and Income after one week of delivering her newborn son by Caesarian section. She went to the office with the intention of informing the agency about her baby, but she was surprised when the staff told her to look for another job.
Ms Griffin said she was speechless when she heard the bad news. She was thinking about how to support her week-old baby without a job. She visited the office to show present her hospital discharge papers, but the case manager did not even look at them. The case manager demanded a birth certificate. However, the document was not yet with her at that time.
Instead of asking about her welfare, the case manager wanted to know why she missed two appointments with Work and Income. She was not able to attend the meetings since she was looking for a house to rent and needed an advance payment for the bond.
She cancelled her previous appointments when she failed to secure a house. Ms Griffin is living with her child's paternal grandparents until she can find a home. The baby's father admitted himself in drug rehabilitation to treat his long-time addiction.
Ms Griffin, who also had an 8-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter, told the case manager that she wanted to finish her Social Work degree at Massey University. The case manager told her she doesn't want to know the details.
Ms Griffin said the case manager was more interested in getting her to find a full-time job. She said the case manager at one time looked at her computer and said, "Pause 30 seconds and resume interview." Ms Griffin thought the case manager was cold and heartless throughout their meeting.
She had no news from the agency until she received a letter, indicating her benefits had been reduced by half for failing to meet her obligations.
Ms Griffin is just one of almost 13,000 parents with dependent children who have had their benefits reduced for failing work tests.
According to the Child Poverty Action Group, 1,310 parents had their benefits cut in in the first three months after parents with children aged 6 and above were required to find part-time work after Sept. 2010. The number grew from 5,074 in 2011 and 6,418 in 2012.
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