Family leave for councillors
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The role of being a Councillor and having the privilege of representing your community should be open to all COSLA President Councillor Alison Evison said today (Friday).

Councillor Evison also stressed that the Family Leave Guidance for Councillors produced by COSLA, which councils can choose to adopt, is a huge step forward that should encourage more people to stand for elected office and help break down barriers for many.

Guidance on Family Leave for Councillors was agreed by all Council Leaders in Scotland and circulated to Scottish Councils for adoption 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 Councillor Alison Evison, has been formed to actively progress this agenda.

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.

Councillor Alison Evison said: “The role of being a Councillor and having the privilege of representing your community should be open to all. That is why agreeing guidance on family leave for councillors was a huge step forward for COSLA as we seek to remove the barriers to elected office and to encourage more women and more younger people to stand for election. We look forward to continued progress as Councils choose to adopt and apply this locally as appropriate to their circumstance.”

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 and Scottish Government are currently engaged in positive discussion to allow greater local flexibility on this matter.