Southport Town Hall. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

Sefton Council is looking to introduce a new Parental Leave Policy, in a bid to attract and retain more women and more parents into politics. 

Love government has traditionally been a male-dominated role with more male than female councillors. 

Earlier this year, Sefton Council appointed its first ever female Leader in Cllr Marion Atkinson. 

At this Thursday’s Full Council meeting at Southport Town Hall (11th July 2024), proposals will be put forward for the borough to introduce a long overdue Parental Leave Policy. 

Analysis of the 2018 Local Election results by the Fawcett Society found that only 34% of councillors in England were women. 

As of summer 2017, only 4% of councils in England and Wales had parental leave policies, according to research by the Fawcett Society. 

Five years ago Sefton councillors backed a motion insisting that: “That the role of a councillor should be open to all, regardless of their background, and that introducing a parental leave policy is a step towards encouraging a wider range of people to become councillors, and is also a step to encourage existing councillors who may want to start a family to remain as councillors. 

“Parental leave must apply to parents regardless of their gender, and that it should also cover adoption leave to support those parents who choose to adopt.”

The ambition was to ensure that councillors with children and other caring commitments are sufficiently supported. 

The latest Local Government Association published national census of local authority councillors 2022 indicated that 59% of councillors were male, and 41% female. 

Contact has been made with the LGA to find out statistics on the numbers of English and Welsh local authorities who have introduced parental leave policies. The LGA have advised that they have been notified that over 80 local authorities have adopted parental leave policies. However, the LGA anticipates that more councils will have adopted the policy but that they have not yet notified the LGA.

The new Sefton Council policy says: “Improved provision for new parents will contribute towards increasing the diversity of experience, age and background of local authority councillors. It will also assist with retaining experienced councillors – particularly women – and making public office more accessible to individuals who might otherwise feel excluded from it.”

Members giving birth would be entitled to up to 6 months maternity leave from the due date, with the option to extend up to 52 weeks by agreement if required.

Members would be entitled to take a minimum of 2 weeks paternity leave if they are the biological father or nominated carer or their partner/spouse following the birth of their child(ren).

All Members would continue to receive their Basic Allowance in full whilst on maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

Councillors entitled to a Special Responsibility Allowance would continue to receive their allowance in full in the case of maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave.

 

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