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Moray councillors now entitled to family leave

By Hazel Lawson Local Democracy Reporter

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Councillors have voted to allow themselves paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

At a meeting today Moray Council's corporate committee unanimously approved COSLA's (the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities') scheme to allow family leave for elected members.

At the moment there is no legal right for anyone holding an elected public office to take any kind of family leave.

The aim of the scheme is therefore to remove the barriers which put off some people from getting involved in local politics.

Councillor Shona Morrison.
Councillor Shona Morrison.

Cllr Shona Morrison (Fochabers/Lhanbryde, SNP) said: "It’s great that we see this as a move to attract more women into councillor roles.

"But there are significant areas which we have to be aware of that stop women from standing for the council.

"Remuneration is a problem. Toxic culture is also amongst that. And then there's the incredibly long working hours, including evening working, which are a barrier to elected office.

"As welcome as this is we’ve got a lot of work to do."

Councillor Brdget Mustard.
Councillor Brdget Mustard.

Cllr Bridget Mustard (Heldon and Laich, Conservative), the committee's chairwoman, agreed with Ms Morrison’s comments and advocated a policy to allow mothers on the council to breast feed.

She said: "I think this scheme is a good start, but there’s a lot of things we need to work through.

"After six months mothers may want to return and still be breast feeding.

"This is something we need to consider and look into."

Up to six months can be taken off for maternity leave. This can begin 28 days before a baby’s due date.

Paternity leave is a maximum of two weeks.

Shared paternity leave is up to six months which can be split between two parents.

Six months of leave are also available for those adopting a child.

This begins on the day of placement.

Arrangements will be put in place to cover councillor’s responsibilities when they are on family leave

Councillors will have to give at least four weeks notice for any time off they are seeking.

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