A new parental leave policy has been implemented by North Herts Council which aims to increase the diversity of councillors.
The policy, which was adopted at Full Council in September, will allow councillors to take maternity, paternity, adoptive and surrogacy leave if become a parent while in office. Previously councillors had no right to parental leave and any time off had to be approved on an individual basis.
The aim is to enable people of varying ages and backgrounds to become councillors and to help retain experienced councillors who might otherwise feel they have to give up their position to become a parent.
Under the new policy councillors giving birth are entitled to up to 6 months of maternity leave, with the option to extend by up to a further 26 weeks, by agreement if required.
Councillors are also entitled to take a minimum of 2 weeks of paternity leave if they are the biological father or nominated carer of their partner/spouse following the birth, adoption or surrogacy. Arrangements can also be made for shared parental leave arrangements.
During Parental leave councillors will continue to receive allowances. Details of the policy can be found here.
Councillor Judi Billing, North Herts Council Executive Member for Community Engagement said: “This policy is a great step forward for inclusivity and diversity within our council. The participation and voices of those starting a family are invaluable for a progressive and effective council. Although it is not a legal requirement for councillors to be given parental leave, we are glad to be at the forefront of implementing such a policy as we feel the benefits will lead to a more inclusive and effective council”
During their absence arrangements will be made for other councillors to cover their duties for the period of leave.