Family-friendly leave for clergy
1. Who does this guidance apply to?
This guidance covers family-friendly leave for clergy office holders (including clergy in their title posts) in the Diocese of London who receive a stipend.
Reference is also made to arrangements for ordinands finishing their training and who have been offered a title post in the Diocese. An ordinand is not an office holder until ordained.
2. What type of family-friendly leave do we offer?
All clergy office holders under Common Tenure are entitled to maternity, paternity/partner, shared parental, adoption, and ordinary parental leave as conferred by the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Directions 2010 and the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Directions 2015.
Whilst there is no specific legal entitlement to leave for clergy officeholders on freehold, the Diocese of London has agreed that the same entitlements will apply as to those on common tenure.
3. What pay will I receive if I take family-friendly leave?
With most types of family-friendly leave the Diocese of London enhances statutory entitlements. See links below for more details of each policy:
4. What are my rights and obligations while on family-friendly leave?
As detailed in advice issued by the Archbishops Council, holding office is distinct from employment in a number of ways that affect consideration of office holders’ entitlements in connection with family friendly leave.
Office holders remain in office while they are on leave which means they retain the rights and responsibilities that go with the office, for example, the right to remain in any accommodation provided for the better performance of their duties and the obligation to ensure that the duties of the office are carried out on their behalf.
5. Who do I need to inform initially about my need for family-friendly leave?
You should inform your Incumbent and/or Bishop of your intended leave, in writing, as soon as reasonably practical. Women clergy may also find it helpful to inform the Dean of Women’s Ministry who can connect them with others within the parish Area or Diocese who have been through the same leave process.
Curates in training (in title post) should inform their Post Ordination Training (POT) Director, and ordinands in training who have accepted a title post in the Diocese should inform their Lead Area Director of Ordinands (Lead ADO).
6. What are the boundaries whilst I am on family-friendly leave?
Worshipping in the parish or remaining actively involved whilst on leave will feel important to some people, whilst others will want to have time away. This may differ or change according to the length of leave taken. Different approaches are valid and it should be the intention of all parties to work out in advance how everyone’s needs can be accommodated.
The following actions may be helpful in establishing these boundaries:
- Agreeing with those close to you what you feel the boundaries need to be in your particular situation.
- Meeting with the appropriate people to discuss preferences and how they might be accommodated.
- Meeting with your PCC to express your preferences and how they may be accommodated. Whatever you agree should be confirmed in writing.
Some questions you might like to consider when thinking about keeping boundaries:
- Do you want to worship in the parish, or would you like to be elsewhere?
- Would you like to have regular contact meetings, or to be less ‘in touch’ for a while? Are there decisions that you would like to be involved with e.g., changes of personnel, major incidents?
- What will happen to your work emails and answerphone messages whilst you are on leave?
- Would you like social contact with the congregation?
- How will you respond if people knock on the vicarage door? Will you respond or redirect people?
7. How do I address the issue of cover?
Depending on the role, issues of cover should be raised as early as possible with the appropriate person (as stated at paragraph 5).
If you are an incumbent, it is envisaged that you will ‘use all reasonable endeavours to make arrangements for the duties of the office to be performed by another person or persons during the period of leave’ (Archbishops’ Council Guidance). Of course, this may vary from role to role but in practice this means that;
- When any type of family leave is requested, you should meet with the appropriate people to discuss how cover can best be provided.
- Discuss which party is going to be responsible for maintaining cover whilst leave is being taken.
Cover can take many different forms; a fixed term appointment or ad hoc cover. This is something to be discussed with the appropriate person, being aware that there may be financial implications.
8. What happens if I am in a title post but now wish to take family-friendly leave?
The length of your training post (curacy) may be extended to take account of leave. Details of this should be explicitly agreed with your Lead ADO and Bishop when you request the leave.
9. What happens if I am an ordinand wishing to take family-friendly leave?
For ordinands in their final year of training it may be appropriate to defer the date of ordination for a period of discretionary unpaid leave or to go ahead with the planned ordination date and extend the length of the training post to take account of any unpaid agreed leave.
Ordinands in training (as students) would not qualify for family-friendly leave because of not meeting employment or office holder eligibility criteria. However, in discussion with the college and your Lead ADO it may be appropriate for you to take discretionary leave from your studies and/or placement (if on a full time context-based pathway) and for your training to be extended as appropriate.
10. What obligation does the PCC have with regard to housing?
The overall aim is that an individual should not be in a housing situation where they are ‘worse off’ as a result of taking family-friendly leave. However, we recognise that this can place a financial pressure on a PCC if they are bearing the cost of accommodation. Whilst there are no hard and fast rules, the following principles should be considered:
- Where the Diocese is already paying for the housing, it will continue to do so,
- Where the PCC is providing the housing, the ideal situation is that they will continue to do so,
- If this is not possible, the Archdeacon will explore whether the Area can find the money/resources (e.g., substitute clergy) to resolve the issue,
- If this is not possible, the LDF will consider whether they are able to help. This will happen by the Archdeacon for the Area presenting a case to the Diocesan Joint Operations Team
PCCs who may have difficulty meeting the cost of housing should approach their Archdeacon in the first instance.
Ordinands in training who have secured a title post and who are not yet office holders in the Diocese have no entitlement to accommodation during any period of discretionary unpaid leave.
11. Can I return to my post after leave?
Bearing in mind the above, an office holder has never left their post. They, therefore, return to their post as if they have never left it. By default, therefore, there is no ‘right’ to be found an equivalent post on return from any kind of family-friendly leave.
To confirm, training curacies may be extended to take account of leave.
Ordinands in training, who are not office holders but who have been offered a title post and who have reached the end of any period of discretionary unpaid leave, should discuss how best to manage the transition from leave to curacy with the appropriate person (ref paragraph 5).
12. How do I return to work after family-friendly leave?
At the point of requesting family-friendly leave it would be helpful, where possible, if you could indicate if and when you anticipate you might return from leave. In order to ensure that your stipend payments are correct, the Diocesan HR office, as well as your Incumbent and/or Bishop, should be informed in writing at least 8 weeks before the end of your leave that you plan to return to work and whether that is on a full or part time basis. A return-to-work interview with you can then be arranged to discuss your intentions and provide parish updates.
It is not unusual for someone to feel they may need different working arrangements or a phased return after family friendly leave, for example, part-time working with a reduction in responsibilities. In employment this need is responded to using a ‘flexible working request’. However, in parochial office, there is often already flexibility about how work is carried out and so clergy may not feel they need a formalised request to work flexibly but can accommodate this within their current role. Flexibility in this context means working in a full-time role flexibly, i.e., a different working pattern but continuing all responsibilities.
If this is the case, the following principles should be adopted:
- The flexibility being suggested should be expressly discussed with the appropriate person as outlined in paragraph 5, as well as the Incumbent and/or Bishop where necessary, so that all parties are clear about expectations and obligations.
- As an office holder, you remain responsible for arranging appropriate cover if you are taking time off.
13. What if I need more than ‘flexibility within role’ and feel that part time work with a reduction in responsibility is the way forward?
The Archbishops guidance provides a process for requesting this; the full guidance is detailed in our Flexible Working Policy