Leave of absence and remuneration for acting mayor or regional council chair

Local authorities may grant an extended leave of absence without pay to an elected member. An elected member will be paid the remuneration and allowances of the mayor or regional council chair’s position role while acting in that role for a significant period of time.

From time to time councils have asked the Authority for guidance on whether or not they can grant a leave of absence and whether or not an additional payment can be paid to the elected member acting in the place of the mayor or regional council chair.

An extended leave of absence could be for personal reasons such as family/parental leave, prolonged holiday, illness or, in some cases, when standing for another public office.

Eligibility for an extended leave of absence

Individual local authorities will need to resolve and adopt their own rules for granting an extend leave of absence to an elected member, mayor or regional council chair.

As a general rule of thumb for all elected members (including the mayor or regional council chair):

  • the period must be longer than a single cycle of council meetings, whether that be monthly or six weekly or whatever meeting cycle is set by the council.
  • the leave of absence without pay can be granted for a period of up to six months (maximum) by formal resolution of the council.
  • the period of leave must involve total absence. The elected member cannot be present for any duties either formal or informal – this includes council meetings, meetings with external parties and constituent work. Nor can the elected member speak publicly on behalf of the council or represent it on any issues.

Cessation of remuneration, allowances and benefits while on an extended leave of absence

The payment of the elected member’s (including mayor or regional council chair) remuneration and allowances ceases during the whole of period for which the leave of absence is granted.

All other benefits (including the use of a council provided vehicle for the mayor or regional council chair) will also be unavailable to the elected member during the whole of period for which the leave of absence is granted.

Acting mayor or chairperson

An important role of the deputy mayor or deputy regional council chair is to cover short absences by the mayor or regional council chair. In these cases the deputy would not be eligible to receive the remuneration and allowances usually payable to the mayor or regional council chair. However, for an extended leave of absence clause 8 of the Local Government Members Determination would apply to the deputy mayor or regional council chair.

If an elected member is acting as the mayor or regional council chair because the position is vacant or the mayor or regional council chair is on a formal extended period of leave of absence (as defined above), the elected member is eligible to receive the remuneration and allowances usually payable to the mayor or regional council chair, instead of the elected member’s usual remuneration, allowances, and hearing fees (see clause 8 of the Local Government Members Determination). The elected member is also entitled to the use of the motor vehicle provided to the mayor or regional council chair.