Where are we with Councillor Family Friendly Leave?

In 2017 the Fawcett Society report ‘Women in Local Government’ recommended that councils should adopt family friendly and parental leave to attract a wider group to consider becoming a councillor and to retain existing councillors (Councillor Family Friendly Leave). The LGA Labour Group subsequently developed a model Parental Leave policy for councils and encourages councils to adopt the policy. A number of councils as part of the recommendations of Councillor Independent Remuneration Panels have introduced Parental Leave policies for councillors. Councils that have introduced such policies in the south east include Southampton City, Medway and Windsor and Maidenhead.

A family on the beach

To identify the level of take up of Councillor Family Friendly and Parental Leave South East Employers conducted a survey of SEE member councils in September. The survey identified that 32% of the 22 council respondents offered family friendly leave for councillors and a further 14% were considering adoption of a policy. 30 % of respondents had a formal policy with regards to maternity and adoption leave. Council policies include provision to continue to receive the Basic Allowance for 6 months and for dispensation to be sought should a period of absence of more than 6 months be required (Dispensation to waive the 6 month rule). Other provisions in council policies include continuing to pay a Special Responsibility Allowance during the period of leave and where required appointing another councillor to act up during the designated period of leave. Council policies also support Paternity Leave and provision to Shared Parental Leave.

A key challenge when introducing a policy of family friendly leave should be to ensure that the council and political groups make provision to support the ongoing casework and support required to constituents in the ward or division. In multi member wards this may involve sharing the workload but in single member wards this may be more of a challenge. Should you wish to discuss the survey findings or the role of the IRP in supporting Councillor Family Friendly Leave please contact mark@seemp.co.uk

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