Nottingham City Council is set to introduce maternity and paternity allowances for its councillors, after it became the first council in the country with a majority of female councillors.
The move aims to reflect a younger and more diverse intake of councillors at the last elections and to make public office more of an option for people who might otherwise feel excluded from it. In 2019, a new cohort of councillors saw the number of women increase to 29 out of 55, with eight out of the ten executive councillors being women. Twenty-two councillors and four executive assistants are from a black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
There is currently no legal right to parental leave of any kind for people in elected public office but the council feels this is a potential barrier to attracting candidates from a diverse range of experiences, ages and backgrounds and to retaining experienced councillors, especially women.
The proposal to introduce maternity and paternity allowance would see all members continue to receive their Basic Allowance in full while on maternity, paternity or adoption leave. The move is part of wider changes to councillors’ allowances which include removing a special allowance previously given to eight Area Committee Chairs, saving £47,000, after the position was scrapped in response to changes at the council.
City Council Leader, Cllr David Mellen, said: “I am proud of the fact that we have a young and diverse group of councillors who truly reflect our vibrant, diverse and ambitious city.
“I think it’s right that we make it possible for councillors who become parents to continue in their roles and that we have arrangements in place which remove any potential obstacles for anyone who would otherwise want to contribute to public life as a local councillor.”
The proposal will be discussed at the meeting of the full council on Monday 19th July.