Ministry-related policies and procedures

The Diocese of Liverpool will do all we can to support you during periods of absence and to provide you with help and guidance for your return to work.

This section covers:

Absence from work
Clergy sickness reporting procedure
Occupational Health
Sick pay
Special leave and unpaid leave
Jury service
Time off for other public duties
Becoming a parent
Clergy payroll

Absence from work

The procedure for absence and return to work encompasses the importance of taking care of one another within a pastoral framework that is clear to all. The underlying principles are that during the course of the illness there should be: 

  • good pastoral and practical care
  • respect for the privacy of the individual
  • professional medical advice sought at the right time. 

Clergy will often undertake light duties when they are unwell and try to cover the essential services which is well-intentioned, but which may be detrimental to wellbeing and recuperation, and hence should be carefully considered. This procedure aims to reduce the pressure on you to feel you have to work when you are ill and should instead be taking time off. 



Government guidance says there are no Covid-19 restrictions in the UK but recognises that Covid is still a risk.

You are encouraged to look after yourself at home while you recover to help you avoid passing it on to other people.

The guidance stresses the importance of avoiding close contact with people at increased risk of getting ill from COVID-19 if you have symptoms or have tested positive. This includes people who are pregnant, are aged 60 or over, or who have a weakened immune system due to a health condition or because of medical treatment they are undergoing.

Clergy sickness reporting procedure

If you are unable to work due to illness, you must report the absence to your Church Wardens. For sickness absences of longer than a day, you will need to notify the Archdeacon by emailing and complete a self-certification form, so that we can ensure proper administration and accounting of Statutory Sick Pay.

For absences of seven days or more, you will need to submit a GP fit note to the Archdeacon, using

The Diocese can only claim Statutory Sick Pay from the government to assist us in paying your stipend when we are in receipt of this information - so this is important. 

Cover arrangements

Depending on the circumstances, you should arrange cover locally either with your Area Dean, deanery clergy colleagues or Team Rector/Team. The Archdeacons might also be able to assist.

Recording absence

The HR department will log all absences and, supported by a sick note, will advise Clergy Payroll accordingly. 

Monitoring absence

The HR department monitors sickness absence on a weekly basis and issues reminders to Archdeacons on absences recorded as still outstanding. You should stay in regular contact with the Archdeacon whilst you are absent due to sickness. It will be made clear to absent clergy what is required early in the absence so as to avoid undue stress and any possible misunderstanding. 

Archdeacons may use the Return to Duties form for keeping in touch conversations and HR will log any relevant information on the sickness absence spreadsheet.

The Archdeacons will consult with the HR department if clergy are to be referred to Occupational Health.

Absences of more than 28 days are classed as long-term absences. 

Return to duties

You should inform the Archdeacon when you return from sick leave. In turn, they will inform HR. Where a phased return to work is suggested, this will be outlined by a GP or Occupational Health and discussed and agreed between you and the Archdeacon. HR may also be involved.

You may be asked to take part in a Return to Duties interview following a period of sick leave. This will be to ensure that as much support as possible is provided to you in returning to your duties and, where applicable, that any ongoing health issues are taken into account. Where appropriate, a phased return to work might be recommended.

If you continue with light duties whilst unwell, you should still inform your Church Wardens. 

Occupational Health

The Diocese has links with Occupational Health providers. These will be used in cases of long-term or persistent absence. We may also recommend Occupational Health referrals to assist with designing appropriate phased returns to duties. Referrals may be made where a health issue is impacting on duties and/or where you are still performing some or all of your duties. This will assist the Diocese in providing support for you. 


Employee Assistance Programme

In addition to Occupational Health providers, the Diocese has subscribed to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). Our EAP service provides a complete support network that offers expert advice and compassionate guidance 24/7, covering a wide range of issues for you and your immediate family. Available for iOS and Android devices, you can gain access to My Healthy Advantage with the following login credentials:

Employer code: MHA182877 or by calling 0800 028 0199. 

Inter-Diocesan Counselling Service

You can also use the Inter-Diocesan Counselling Service:


Sick pay

You are entitled to receive full stipend for any period where Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is payable. This is currently six months.

Any further discretionary payment for absence due to ill health will normally be subject to an occupational health assessment and is at the discretion of the Bishop.

Sick pay works on a rolling 12-month period and takes account of all absence in the past year.  

Sickness absence where stipend is not paid for the role

Although sick pay is not applicable, you are still required to notify the Incumbent and Churchwardens for all absence. If you anticipate more than seven days' absence you should also notify the Archdeacon.

Access to Work – stipend only

Access to Work is a scheme run by the Government that provides support both financially and practically for people with disabilities. In the case of a person entering a new post, the fund, if appropriate, will give up to 100% financial help towards support.

To apply for Access to Work, contact Ellen Loudon: 

Special leave and unpaid leave

Special leave will be considered and granted at the discretion of the Bishop, in consultation with the Archdeacon. You may be granted special leave for a variety of reasons, including family ill health or bereavements, or for removal and resettlement and this must be discussed with the Bishop or your Archdeacon. This is granted in addition to annual leave.

Unpaid leave may be requested and is also at the discretion of the Bishop, in consultation with the Archdeacon. This again might be requested for a variety of reasons; for example, extended leave to visit relatives who reside overseas.

Jury service

Clergy are eligible for Jury Service and are encouraged to claim their attendance allowance. You should notify the Area Dean and the Archdeacon. The value of the attendance allowance should be declared and stipend will be adjusted. Please note that you can request to do Jury Service in another area or request to be excused due to the nature of your professional role. Contact the HR department for further advice ( 

Time off for other public duties

If you engage in other duties – beyond those detailed in your Role Description – you must notify the Bishop. Where a payment or fee is paid for these duties you must provide the Clergy Payroll through HR with the details. Stipend may be adjusted to reflect these payments.

Other public duties may include, but are not limited to:

•   work for a public authority, including membership of a court or tribunal
•   work for a charity or friendly society
•   work done in connection with an independent trade union representing office holders of a description which includes the person in question.

It is at the Bishop's discretion if other duties are reasonable and resolve any disputes.

It is important to note that informing the Bishop of other duties is not just about the impact of such duties on time and, where applicable, stipend. It is important that any potential conflict of interest is noted and addressed.

Becoming a parent

Maternity, Paternity, Shared Parental and Adoption Leave

You are entitled to maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave for the same periods and subject to the same conditions as an employee under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Eligibility for statutory maternity pay can be found at:

Maternity leave  

If you wish to take Maternity Leave, you should refer to the Church of England guidance paper, which may be found on its website or by using this link: COFE Guidance on legal requirements
You should advise your Area Dean and Archdeacon of your desire to take maternity leave as soon as practically possible and must forward your MAT B1 form to the HR Department, St James House, 20 St James Road, Liverpool L1 7BY 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 13 weeks at statutory maternity pay and the final t week13 unpaid.  

If you have questions relating to this information, please contact the HR Advisor (

Paternity leave

You should discuss your leave plans with your Area Dean and Archdeacon 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 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.

Parental leave

Parental leave is available for up to 13 weeks before a child’s fifth birthday (18 weeks before the child’s 18th birthday where the child is disabled). This is unpaid.

Shared parental leave (birth)

Shared parental leave enables mothers to commit to ending their maternity leave and pay at a future date, and to share the untaken balance of leave and pay as shared parental leave and pay with their partner, or to return to work early from maternity leave and opt in to shared parental leave and pay at a later date.

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, visit:

Adoption – shared parental leave

Shared parental leave enables adopters to commit to ending their adoption leave and pay at a future date, and to share the untaken balance of leave and pay as shared parental leave and pay with their partner, or to return to work early from adoption leave and opt in to shared parental leave and pay at a later date.

Adjustments to working arrangements and time off for care for dependants

You can request adjustments to hours or unpaid leave to care for dependents. Requests should be submitted to your Archdeacon for consideration by the Bishop in consultation with the Archdeacon.

Family/parental leave

And family/parental leave you take needs to be authorised. Please complete the Parental Leave Form for all family and parental leave: 

Download the Parental Leave form here

Our Diocese follows the guidance of the national church for Family and Parental leave; full guidance is available here:

Further details are available from the HR department (

Clergy payroll

HR will inform Clergy Payroll on a monthly basis by forwarding any sick notes that have been received or confirming if clergy have returned to work. 

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