Clergy to Receive Extended Employment Rights

( [email protected] ) Jan 19, 2004 12:15 PM EST

The Church of England announced plans to give employment rights to their clergy, under their union “Amicus.” The proposal will grant the priests employed on temporary contracts access to tribunal and legal protection from unfair dismissal, as well as rights to redundancy payments and holidays.

Traditionally clergy have been regarded as office holders answerable to God rather than workers answerable to an earthly employer. Consequently, priests receive no rights to employment tribunals. In addition, while Anglican clergy once had the security of tenure, their jobs have been increasingly limited to seven year contracts.

Recent surveys found that nearly 50% of Anglican priests felt their job was under threat. Many others said they felt they have been treated unfairly or dishonestly.

Under the new recommendations of the union, priests would be granted secure jobs until retirement as well as access to tribunals and rights to annual and parental leave.

Nonetheless, Amicus reported that the rights of the clergy would remain limited because the priests have no formal contracts of employment. Should a priest claim a breach of contract has taken place, the remedies open to them would be limited.

"As office holders, they will not have contracts of employment. In a breach of contract, clergy will have no remedy other than if their rights are covered under Section 23,” said Christ Ball of Amicus.

However, the chance to use employment tribunals, according to Christ Ball, is “really tremendous news. It's a huge change."