New guidance on Family Leave for Councillors has been agreed by Council Leaders for circulation to Scottish Councils for them to consider adopting on a voluntary basis.
Developing the diversity of elected members is a key COSLA priority and a Barriers to Elected Office Special Interest Group, chaired by COSLA President Councillor Alison Evison, has been formed to actively progress this agenda.
Elected members currently have no legal right to family leave of any kind; this barrier disproportionally impacts women who currently make up just 29% of Scottish Councillors.
The COSLA Cross-Party Special Interest Group, in consultation with elected members, identified the absence of formal family leave as a key barrier preventing individuals from standing or re-standing for elected office. As a result the group recommended ‘Family Leave Guidance for Councillors’ covering maternity, paternity, shared and adoption leave.
The guidance recommends councillors on leave continue to receive both their basic and Special Responsibility allowances in full where this is appropriate. The payment of Special Responsibility Allowance is not always possible within the constraints of current legislation and COSLA Leaders also agreed to press Scottish Government to allow greater local flexibility and decision making on this matter.