Terms of service

14 July 2010

CLERGY terms of service returned to the Synod on Sunday afternoon.

The Bishop of Hull, the Rt Revd Richard Frith (Northern Suffragans), introduced the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Reg­u­lations 2010, which would en­sure that clergy had the same legal entitlement as other employees to a statutory minimum leave each year.

“There will be nothing to stop dioceses from providing more than the statutory minimum . . . but we did not think in the current financial climate that it was right to require dioceses to do more than this.”

The regulations would also entitle clergy to adoption leave, paternity leave, and unpaid parental leave. The clergy could now request that their duties could be adjusted to look after their dependants, but they would still have to ensure that someone else covered their duties.

The Synod voted to consider the regulations.

The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent (Southern Suf­fragans), moved an amendment be­cause of a problem met in London, and also in Oxford and Guildford dio­ceses, with the legislation for common tenure in regard to posts designated as Locally Supported Ministry (LSM) posts.

The problem was that such posts would fall under the provisions of unlimited common tenure, often with considerable costs to parishes that might have budgeted to support such clergy for only three to five years, or to dioceses if the parishes could not meet such costs. The amendment would ap­­ply only to assistant curates who were not in principal charge of a parish.

It required the PCC to enter into a legally binding agreement with the diocese to pay the whole costs of the post, and that the assistant curate was designated an LSM in writing by the bishop. The very specific conditions had been imposed in order not to undermine the general principles behind common tenure.

The amendment was supported by the Bishop of Hull. It did not address the question whether the post-holder held office on common tenure, but provided an additional category of posts within common tenure which were time-limited.

The Archdeacon of Dorking, the Ven. Julian Henderson (Guildford), welcomed the legislation, especially for parishes that wanted to take on a minister at their own cost for three to five years. Such a post was popular as a stepping stone between a title parish and an incumbency. The amendment provided a PCC with the ability to make time-limited appointments.

Bishop Broadbent’s amendment was carried.

Bishop Frith then introduced the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Directions 2010 as “a tidying-up exercise”. The effect, however, was that there would now exist the means of initiat­ing a capability procedure “about the performance of an archbishop or diocesan bishop”. It would also extend provision for the archbishops to un­dergo a medical examination. “In this way, we are ensuring that all office-holders on common tenure are sub­ject to the same mechanisms for ad­dressing any concerns about their health or the performance of their duties.”

The regulation also created a new category of people who had fixed or limited-term appointments under common tenure — those who did not have the right to stay for an unlimited time in the UK. “We want to continue to welcome clergy from overseas, but we can only do that responsibly if we are able to meet our legal obligations as their sponsors.”

Bishop Frith’s motion to approve the regulations was carried.

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