Liberal Democrat-run Watford Council have agreed a ground-breaking policy granting councillors maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption, bereavement, compassionate and long-term sick leave.
Under current UK legislation, there is no legal basis on which elected officials are permitted to take a leave of absence from conducting their duties. This is applicable to councillors and MPs alike, with the exception of members of the national government’s Cabinet.
A leave policy for councillors has been agreed by Watford Council to increase participation and involvement of underrepresented groups in the council and promote a greater diversity of those putting themselves forward for elected office.
Councillor Jennifer Pattinson, Portfolio Holder for Wellbeing, said “This policy is really important because although there is no legislation nationally several councils have recently implemented parental leave policies for councillors. However, in true Watford fashion we are being bold and taking this one step further to acknowledge that there may be any number of unexpected circumstances out of our control which may lead to a councillor needing to take a leave of absence.
“The policy sets out the correct process and makes it clear the residents can expect to see continuity of service should the situation arise in which a councillor needs to take a leave of absence. This is a wonderful step forward for the council and will hopefully encourage an even more diverse range of people to consider putting themselves forward to become a councillor.”
- Watford Council Agenda including the Leave Policy for Councillors available here.