Giving Northampton councillors parental leave will make public office ‘more accessible’

Northampton councillors will now be given an entitlement to parental leave after giving birth or adopting a child.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 3:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 3:11 pm

Currently, there is no policy in place to allow councillors to take leave, and it is hoped that the move encourages a wider range of people to take up public office.

The motion was submitted by Labour councillor Emma Roberts, and backed by the entire chamber including Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors at The Guildhall on Monday evening (January 20).

Councillor Roberts said: “Being a parent is a life-changing experience, as is being a councillor. Doing the two at the same time can be a scary prospect but it should be possible. A parental leave policy is a step forward in that regard.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Councillors will now get parental leave after a motion was passed by elected members of Northampton Borough Council. Picture by Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

“Leave should not be discretionary based on agreements with the leader of the time. This would make being in public office that little bit more accessible.”

Conservative council leader Councillor Jonathan Nunn responded: “We will be supporting this and we think it’s important to put it in as part of our policy.”

It makes Northampton Borough Council one of almost 40 authorities in the country to have passed a Parental Leave policy.

The motion stated: “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.”

It also calls on the borough to ensure that councillors with children and other caring commitments are ‘supported as appropriate’.