Common Tenure is the new form of office holding introduced by the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009. This form of holding office applies to all those appointed to office after the implementation date of 31st January 2011. It also applies to those who held office prior to that date but did not have the freehold.
Clergy and other office holders will continue to be appointed as vicars, rectors, assistant curates, priests in charge and so on. Under these new arrangements, a post may only be limited to a fixed term in certain specified circumstances and the great majority of office holders may remain in a particular post until they resign or retire.
Clergy who hold office under Common Tenure are entitled to a written Statement of Particulars that sets out the obligations and rights of office holders conferred by the Ecclesiastical Terms of Service Measure and Regulations. These rights and obligations include:
- an entitlement to time off;
- an entitlement to maternity, paternity, parental and adoption leave;
- access to a grievance procedure;
- a right of appeal to an employment tribunal if removed from office on grounds of capability,
- an obligation to participate and co-operate in ministerial development review (MDR) and engage in continuing ministerial development (CMD);*
- to inform a person nominated by the bishop when unable to perform the duties of office through sickness;*
*Dioceses are now legally obliged to ensure that there are suitable resources allocated to ensure that clergy are reviewed and afforded opportunities for training Incumbents, as well as making provision for the HR responsibilities that arise from the new legislation.
Incumbents will continue to have formal legal ownership of the parsonage house by virtue of holding the benefice as corporation sole, and their property rights will be unaffected. Other office holders now have a legal right to accommodation ‘reasonably suitable for the purpose’, kept in good repair by a relevant housing provider and with the right to object to the disposal, improvement, demolition or reduction of their house of residence. Where they are not already entitled to compensation, clergy now have an entitlement to receive to up one year’s compensation if displaced as a result of pastoral reorganisation.
The legislation introduces a capability procedure, which may be instigated where an office holder’s performance gives cause for concern, and which may, in the last resort, lead to removal from office in cases where performance is not satisfactory and fails to improve.
The law affecting patronage and the appointments procedure remains unchanged.
The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 and the Canons continue to apply to all clergy whether on common tenure or not.
Those who held the freehold at the date of implementation were invited to transfer to Common Tenure but were not obliged to do so. They may opt in to the new arrangements at any point, but will automatically transfer if they resign an existing freehold office to take up a new one.
Clergy on Employment Contracts
Some clergy do not hold parochial office, but are employed by an institution or the DBF in a chaplaincy or advisory capacity. The Terms of Service Regulations do not apply to such clergy, although they will have similar rights and responsibilities conferred within their existing employment contracts. They are encouraged to participate in MDR and CMD as appropriate to their circumstances and do remain subject to the Clergy Discipline Measure..
A new handbook has been pulled together to support the implementation of Terms of Service. Most of the content is common across the country, but the version below reflects some regional variations as agreed between the North East dioceses, as well as specific detail for the Diocese of York. Whilst it is focussed on those on Common Tenure, there is material that may be of interest to other clergy whether on freehold or employed. You can download this at the bottom of the page, as well as the Guidelines for Occupancy of Diocesan Property, and there are some links that provide access to other relevant documents