South Gloucestershire Council is due to vote on a new policy that would allow councillors to take time off for maternity or adoption leave.

The new policy would see councillors entitled to leave whilst retaining their basic allowance and any special responsibility allowance they might receive for up to six months.

Any extended absences would be taken on a case by case basis.

Following the local elections in May, South Gloucestershire Council has welcomed greater diversity in its elected members, with an increase in the number of women, and many more councillors of working age, with children.

Under existing policy, councillors are not considered eligible for maternity leave – with the difference being that they are elected rather than employed.

Welcoming the progressive approach is new mum Cllr Rachael Hunt, Cabinet Member for Communities and Tourism, who gave birth to daughter Thea earlier this year.

During the months following the pregnancy, despite no maternity leave policy being in place, Cllr Hunt was supported in her Cabinet duties by Cllr Toby Savage, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, and Cllr Franklin Owusu-Antwi, Cabinet Assistant for Community Safety.

Cllr Hunt said: “Having wanted to start a family for so long, Thea has been the miracle our family has waited for. Given the complexities around her birth, it hasn’t been easy to juggle my council responsibilities with home life, but I am truly grateful for how supportive everyone has been, particularly at the council.

“It is a big step forward towards being a fully inclusive organisation and I hope the for those looking to start a family, it will prevent them from being put off by running for office and making a positive difference to their community.”

The proposal will be subject to a vote at the full council meeting on Wednesday, October 16.