On 5th November 2018 the Second Church Estates Commissioner Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP answered two written question from Rachael Maskell MP on clergy carers.
Rachael Maskell MP: To ask the Right Honourable Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, whether women in ministry with caring responsibilities are in receipt of their full stipend.
Dame Caroline Spelman: The Church Commissioners do not have details of how many clergy have asked for time off or adjustments, or the level of support for caring for dependants and assistance with cover, as arrangements for this are best made locally – whether within the parish, or arranged with the assistance of the area dean or archdeacon.
Since office holders do not report on the number or arrangement of the hours they work in performance of their duties of office, it is not known how many clergy women (and men) take advantage of this flexibility to care for their dependants whilst holding full time offices and receiving full stipend.
All clergy (women and men) holding office on Common Tenure have a legal right to make a formal request for time off, or for adjustments to their duties of office, to care for a dependant. The latest statistics show that there were 330 women and 310 men in part-time stipendiary clergy roles at the end of 2017. It is likely that a full time stipendiary office holder who makes a request for their duties of office to be permanently adjusted to part-time in order to care for a dependant would receive a corresponding reduction in stipend. The decision as to whether an office holder receives full stipend during any formally requested time off to care for a dependant is made by the bishop on a case by case basis. The Bishop may grant special leave (usually on compassionate grounds)during which office holders usually receive their full stipend.
Rachael Maskell: To ask the Right Honourable Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, how women in ministry are being supported with eldercare and parental care.
Dame Caroline Spelman: All ministers on common tenure – whether women or men – have the right to request time off work or adjustments to be made to the duties of their office in order to care for a dependant. As clergy office holders do not have defined hours of work, they already have greater flexibility than most employees over how they carry out their duties, which can often enable them to carry out their duties whilst caring for dependants without the need to request time off or adjustments.
As office holders, clergy are responsible for arranging their own cover while they are absent for any reason, (although the area dean or a member of the Bishop’s staff may assist clergy to arrange such cover where necessary). Support for caring for dependants and assistance with cover is not provided for centrally, as arrangements for this are best made locally – whether within the parish, or arranged with the assistance of the area dean or archdeacon. The Church Commissioners do not, therefore, have details of the level of support provided locally.
Women clergy are also supported at diocesan level by Deans of Women’s Ministry whose role is to promote the full inclusion of women in their diocese at every level of church life. As well as supporting female clergy with caring responsibilities, they are advocates for the ministry of women clergy in the diocese, listen to ordained women, identify the gifts, skills and potential among women clergy, and encourage these to be developed, used and fulfilled.