Clergy Sickness Policy & Procedure
The Diocese of Chester will do all they can to support the clergy during periods of absence and to provide help and guidance for their return to work. The Clergy Sickness Policy and Procedure document sets out the Diocese’s policy on sickness absence, and the accompanying procedure sets out the process of reporting absence and dealing with clergy absences.
Clergy should notify both the HR department and their Rural Dean when they are unable to fulfil their normal duties due to ill health who will discuss what duties, if any, should be undertaken. Where the absence continues for seven days or longer, a doctor's certificate, or sick note will be required.
The Social Security (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2010 and the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 came into force on 6 April 2010 and introduce the new “fit notes” for use by GPs.
Fit notes will replace the current sick notes. Therefore, clergy absent through sickness for longer than seven days will receive so-called ‘fit notes' instead of sick notes from their GPs. Doctors will still be able to say someone is not fit for work, but they will also be able to spell out those aspects of jobs that workers can still perform. The new regime applies across the United Kingdom.
The aim of fit notes is to enable more employees to stay in work and to give improved advice to employers to help absent workers to be able to return to work.
GPs will be able to certify that a worker ‘may be fit for work' and employers should carry out a risk assessment to ensure that the worker is fit for work. In this situation, the clergyperson should discuss the GP's advice with the Rural Dean to see if a return to work is possible, taking into account the effects of the illness or injury. Options might generally include:
- a phased return to work;
- altered hours;
- amended duties; or
- workplace adaptations.
The GP will also provide general details of the functional effect of the individual's condition. The employer is not obliged to act on the GP's advice in a 'may be fit for work' statement.
If it is possible for the clergyperson to return to work, the Rural Dean, in conjunction with advice from the HR department, should agree with the clergyperson how this will happen, what support the clergyperson will receive and how long the support will last. If they agree that it is not possible for the clergyperson to return to work immediately, it will not be necessary for the clergyperson to get a further fit note from the GP.
The maximum duration of a fit note will be three months during the first six months of a medical condition and six months thereafter.
Where a person is assessed by his or her GP as ‘not fit for work', the clergyperson should send the GP's note to Church House as evidence that they cannot work because of ill-health. The diocese will then use it to arrange sick pay.
Returning to Work After Sickness Absence
The Church Commissioners Clergy Payments department ask us to confirm when clergy return to work after an absence due to sick leave. In order to help us do this, please either complete the End of Absence - Return to Work form or email either Maxine Southwick or Liz Geddes to confirm your return date.
Becoming a Parent?
Maternity Leave: Clergy wishing to take Maternity Leave must forward their MAT B1 form to the HR Department (Church House, 5500 Daresbury Park, Daresbury, Warrington, WA4 4GE) by the 15th week before the week the baby is due.
Stipendiary clergy are eligible for 12 months’ maternity leave. The diocesan policy is to pay the first six months at the usual stipend rate followed by thirteen weeks at statutory maternity pay and the final thirteen weeks unpaid. For more information contact Liz Geddes.
Paternity Leave: You must discuss your leave plans with your employer and tell them what time off you want by the 15th week before the week the baby is due. You can change your mind, but you must give your employer 28 days’ notice of the dates. You can choose to take one or two whole weeks leave, but not two separate weeks, which must end by the 56th day after the date of birth. If the baby is born early you can choose to take your leave any time between the actual date of birth and the end of an eight-week period starting from the Sunday of the week the baby was originally due. You cannot take odd days off, but the weeks can start on any day, for example, from Tuesday to Monday.
You must complete Form SC3 and return it to the HR Department by the 15th week before the week the baby is due.
Adoption Leave : Statutory Adoption Leave is 52 weeks. Only one person in a couple can take adoption leave. The other partner (regardless of gender) can take paternity leave for adoption instead. For paternity leave when adopting you must discuss your leave plans with your employer and tell them what time off you want within seven days of the date the adoption agency tells you that you have been matched with the child. You can change your mind, but you must give your employer 28 days’ notice of the new date. You can choose to take one or two whole weeks’ leave which must end by the 56th day after the date the child is placed with you. You cannot take odd days off work, but the weeks can start on any day, for example, Tuesday to Monday.
You must complete Form SC4 and return it to the HR Department at least 28 days before you want to start receiving OSPP. If you are a parental order parent you must complete this form and return it to us by the end of the 15th week before the week the baby is due. Please read the notes on the form carefully to ensure you are giving the correct amount of notice.
For overseas adoptions the form and notice period is different. The process is explained on form SC5.
For further information on statutory leave and pay please also see the GOV.UK website at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statutory-pay
Completed forms should be returned to the HR Department by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or sent by post to Church House, 5500 Daresbury Park, Daresbury, Warrington, WA4 4GE.
Dignity at Work and in Church Life – Maintaining Positive Relationships
The Church is required by God to foster relationships of integrity, truthfulness and trustworthiness. The abuse of this obligation by harassment or bullying will not be tolerated in the Diocese as it undermines the love we should demonstrate for each other and our Christian witness to the world. However infrequently it happens, therefore, all complaints of abuse, harassment and bullying will be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.
The Dignity at Work and in Church Life Policy explains what should happen if there are complaints about bullying and harassment. The best way to stop bullying and harassment is to have a culture where any inappropriate behaviour is stopped quickly, and the church demonstrates welcoming and loving support to all who come though its doors.
The Resources Pack can be used in a PCC or other meeting such as Deanery Synod. The pack is most useful in enabling people to consider how they behave in their relationships in church and to look at whether they need to take action to improve how they work together and support each other.
Lone working and personal safety
Clergy working alone will face similar risks to others, but the job can also carry additional risks and it is important that sensible precautions are taken and arrangements made to ensure that they are as safe as possible. Clergy should familiarise themsleves with the Guidelines on lone working and personal safety for clergy. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact Liz Geddes.
Social Media Policy
The Social Media Policy provides guidance for clergy and DBF employees.
For Clergy Leaving Ministry or Moving to a Post in a Different Diocese
All clergy, where a deed of resignation is not required, must complete a move notification form. This form provides HR and Stipends personnel with leaving dates, new contact information and, if applicable, details for payroll purposes.
For Clergy Applying for a post in Chester Diocese
There is a generic Clergy Application Form but clergy should be advised that a form amended with closing dates and other pertinenet information is usually appended to each job vacancy advertised on our website.
Clergy Pension Information
Important information for stipendiary clergy considering taking retirement: Please be advised that if you wish to claim your pension from your retirement date you must contact the Church of England Pensions Board at least 3 months in advance of this. Should you not contact them in advance, there could be problems in receiving your pension from the date your stipend ceases. If you are planning on taking retirement soon, please contact the Pensions Board direct on 020 7898 1802.