Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Clergy terms of service

The Times has a column today about the proposals coming before Synod to grant new “employment rights” to clergy. In Heaven only knows how Church will cope with employment rights two lawyers write:

Could a vicar be sacked for failing to reach his performance targets
IF A clergyman is sacked, he has no legal redress. Clergy are considered to be office-holders answerable to God rather than any terrestrial authority. This spiritual, instead of temporal, relationship means that they cannot take their employers to court.
But now the Church of England is considering granting the rights enjoyed by most other employers to its clergy. If accepted by the Government this would mean ministers becoming entitled to redundancy payments, holidays and protection from unfair dismissal and having access to employment tribunals to resolve disputes.

The article goes on to discuss discrimination:

The proposal to bring the clergy within the employment fold raises interesting issues. Laws introduced in December prevent discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. The issue of clergy who are practising homosexuals is already a hot topic. Where the employment is “for the purposes of an organised religion”, the new laws do allow discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the faith’s followers. The Church will now have to satisfy these criteria if it seeks to justify discrimination against homosexual applicants.

They do not make clear that this is already the case, as the new employment regulations mentioned already apply to all clergy (despite the doubts expressed by Church House officials) and this situation is unaffected by the new proposals. Nor do they make clear that the new proposals will not alter the “office holder” status of many clergy, but instead will confer these “Section 23 rights” upon them as office holders, in exchange for them accepting various responsibilities.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 4 February 2004 at 9:08 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Employment Equality | General Synod | News
Comments

A friend of mine ( a vicar soon to lose his job by reason of a disability) has been told by his Bishop that the new Disability Regulations do not apply to the clergy.

You refer to a similar viewpoint. Have there been any recent developments which would clarify the situation?

Posted by: Richard Woodman at July 11, 2004 10:04 PM