Individual local authorities need to resolve and adopt their own rules for granting an extended leave of absence to an elected member, 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.

Elected members, unlike paid employees, do not have entitlements to prescribed holiday or sick leave. Most elected members will take leave from time to time for a variety of reasons – illness, holiday, family commitments etc. Short absences, even if they involve missing a formal meeting, do not necessarily have to be granted formal leave by resolution of the council, though elected members should inform the mayor or chair of such intentions.

Eligibility for extended leave of absence

For guidance, as a general principle 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, six weekly or whatever meeting cycle is set by the council.
  • The leave of absence without pay can be granted for a period by formal resolution of the council.
  • The period of leave must involve total absence. The elected member cannot undertake 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.

If an elected member intends to be absent for an extended period, the Authority recommends that formal leave of absence be granted by the council.

Cessation of remuneration, allowances and expenses

While on a formal extended leave of absence

The Authority has the powers under clause 6, schedule 7 of the Local Government Act 2002 to prescribe rules for the application of elected members’ remuneration, allowances and expenses payable, therefore:

  • The payment of remuneration and allowances and the reimbursement of expenses to an elected member (including mayor or regional council chair) must cease during the whole period for which formal 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 formal 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 is not eligible to receive the remuneration, allowances and benefits usually payable to the mayor or regional council chair.

However, if an elected member is acting as the mayor or regional council chair because the position is vacant or the incumbent is on a formal extended period of leave of absence (as described above), the acting 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 latest Local Government Members Determination). The elected member is also entitled to the use of the motor vehicle if one is provided to the mayor or regional council chair.