Are local authority councillors entitled to time off to carry out their functions?

Whether or not a local authority councillor is entitled to take time off work for public duties depends on the functions that he or she will be carrying out. Unlike Justices of the Peace (ie magistrates), councillors are not entitled to time off for all their public duties. Their entitlement to time off is limited to circumstances when the purpose of the time off is:

  • to attend meetings of the local authority or its committees or sub-committees;
  • to do anything that has been approved by the local authority for the purpose of the discharge of its functions or those of its committees or sub-committees; and
  • where the local authority is operating executive arrangements (ie it gives decision-making powers to a smaller group, for example councillors or an elected mayor, rather than requiring decisions to be made by the full council), to attend a meeting of the executive (or a committee of that executive) and/or to do anything else as an individual member of that executive for the purpose of discharging functions that are the executive's responsibility.

Therefore, entitlement to time off depends on the functions for which the local authority gives approval. For example, a local authority councillor may be entitled to take time off to attend committee meetings, do site visits and hold surgeries (provided that the amount of time off is reasonable in all the circumstances) if these are approved by the relevant local authority as a means of enabling it to discharge its functions.