Recruitment and Retention within Town and Parish Councils

Finding senior staff, and hanging on to them, has been an endemic problem for Town and Parish Councils for a number of years, and it isn’t getting any easier.

When considering what a Council can do to attract and keep staff, and what difference their HR policies and procedures can make, it might be helpful to consider what Employers outside of the sector are doing.

At the end of June, Curry’s, the electrical retailer, introduced a raft of new policies including:

  • Giving paid leave on top of holiday entitlement to Employees who are having IVF treatment or gender reassignment. This provides paid leave for up to six IVF appointments, or six weeks for gender reassignment surgery.
  • Premature birth support, extending Maternity Leave by the number of days the baby was bon prior to the 37th week of pregnancy.
  • Two weeks paid leave for Employees who suffer pregnancy loss or their partner has had that experience.

Initiatives other Employers have introduced include:

  • Full pay to top up Statutory Maternity Pay for 39 weeks of Maternity Leave.
  • Similar top-up pay for all Paternity Leave.
  • Allowing all home work requests, or request to work flexible hours.
  • Up to 40 days annual paid leave, including Bank Holidays.
  • Additional paid leave to Employees to enable them to care for family dependents.

For many Town and Parish Councils with limited resources and budgets, these ideas may seem a little fanciful and the preserve of bigger Employers.  However, there are opportunities to make jobs more attractive, even on a budget.

For example many small Parish Councils have no meetings in August and December due to holidays.  This makes life a little quieter for the Clerk, and could be an opportunity to increase their paid leave entitlement without damaging the performance of the Council.

Another example could be the opportunity for Employees to work from home, and work hours that fit in around their commitments outside of work.  Employees already have a legal right to request these changes, but the Council has to approve them based on a number of criteria.  Furthermore requests can only be made by Employee who have six months continuous employment.  However, there are proposals to make this opportunity available from day one, and for it to be a right, not a request.  That might seem a little excessive for some Councils who do need an office presence at some times.  However, they can change their procedures from requiring staff to request the changes, to automatically granting them, but with adjustments to meet the business needs of the Council.

The question is, how creative can you be as an Employer, while meeting the needs of the Council? Town and Parish Councils do have very limited resources, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot explore opportunities to make jobs more attractive.

Benefits such as these can be targeted solely at difficult to fill positions, without worrying about allegations of discrimination.  If a Council can demonstrate that it has difficulties in recruiting certain posts, or attracting people with essential skills and qualifications, it can justify treating those post holders more favourably, and giving them better terms and conditions of employment.


Chris Moses LLM Chartered FCIPD is Managing Director of Personnel Advice & Solutions Ltd.  He is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has a Master’s Degree in Employment Law. If you have any questions regarding these issues please feel free to contact him on (01529) 305056 or email