Maternity and paternity allowances for councillors in key roles
- Credit: Alexandra Bulat via Twitter
County councillors who receive special responsibility allowances for chairing committees are to become entitled to parental leave payments.
It would mean those absent for six months related to maternity, paternity or adoption would still receive their extra payments in full.
The constitution and ethics committee agreed the change on September 29.
Labour county councillor and committee vice chair Dr Alexandra Bulat said: “For me this is a matter of principle and basic rights, especially if we want to improve diversity in local government”.
Cllr Sebastian Kindersley, chair of the committee, said: “We recognise that members are not employees of the county council.
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“But it is still a significant issue for people who may discount standing for election if they are considering starting a family.
It follows a report from the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) that reviewed all allowances.
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"The IRP recognised the importance of promoting parental leave and the positive benefits that this could bring to enhance and increase the diversity of councillor representation,” they concluded.
The recommendation from the IRP was that Special Responsibility Allowances continue to be paid.
However, they recognised that “some councils have chosen to discontinue such payments whilst the councillor is on leave.”
The financial impact of continuing to pay the allowances “is considered to be low”.
The reports says as a comparison against the council’s workforce of 4,300 employees, an average of 70-80 employees are off at any one time on maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave,
This amounts to less than two per cent of the workforce.
Applying this to the number of councillors would equate to an average of one individual.
The council says it recognises that elected members are not employees and therefore are not entitled to the same rights and benefits.
There is no legal entitlement for councillors to have paid parental leave.
“However, the council is committed to ensuring that Cambridgeshire is a county where families are supported to develop and flourish,” says the report.
“The introduction of a parental leave policy for councillors may help to remove barriers that existing and prospective members may face.
“Improved provision for new parents will contribute towards increasing the diversity of experience, age and background of local authority councillors.”