Leave for parents adopted by Synod
Synod has approved the implementation of a new Parental Leave Ordinance, establishing and clarifying entitlements of parish clergy who become new parents and providing guidelines for specific cases.
The ordinance, first discussed at last year’s Synod session, was devised largely because of the unique status of clergy under Commonwealth leave entitlements. Under the Fair Work Act 2009, church ministers are in most cases not entitled to parental leave because they are not employees under the Act. The Parental Leave Ordinance 2016 is designed to guarantee certain leave entitlements and is, in many respects, modelled after the Act.
“We have been very mindful that when it comes to family and ministry life, there is no ‘one size fits all’,” said the mover of the motion, chairwoman of the Parental Leave Committee and Archdeacon for Women's Ministry the Ven Kara Hartley (pictured above during debate).
“Each parish and family is different, and therefore we wanted to give enough guidelines without simply imposing law,” she said. “There are things within the explanatory statement, and in the policy and ordinance, that will allow this to be worked out at the local level… What I trust this will do for both male and female clergy is to give guidance for what will be reasonable, mature discussions about what is best for all.”
Some of the key entitlements include up to 52 weeks continuous unpaid leave for women, eligibility for the Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave Scheme for 19 weeks, and the right to remain in any parish provided dwelling while on leave upon payment of a just and equitable occupation fee. Male ministers will be entitled to up to two weeks’ paid paternity leave. Both men and women will also be eligible for largely identical entitlements if adopting a child.
The amendments made to the bill at this session largely dealt with drafting issues, and most of the principal and specific implementation of the ordinance saw little discussion from the floor. After consideration in committee and the making of such amendments, the ordinance was passed without dissent on the final day of Synod.
Individual parish councils will have the power to decide whether to give effect to the provisions of the ordinance in their parish. The ordinance will come into effect from January next year.