Clergy Grievance Procedure
This procedure is for use by clergy exercising Ministry within the Church in Wales except for those who are employed under specific employment contracts with, for example, a Diocesan Board of Finance. In such circumstances clergy must use the specific procedures provided for by the employer.
The aim of this procedure is:
- to promote good working relationships between clergy;
- to respond to grievances fairly, quickly and as near as possible to the point of origin;
- to take account of the legitimate interest of all concerned;
- to allow grievances to be pursued without fear of sanction or reprisals.
It is central to the teaching of Jesus that those who are reconciled to God must be open to being reconciled to those who have offended them or those they have offended. Reconciliation involves clarification of what has happened, how it is perceived by the other person and acknowledgement of the depth of anger and hurt. Reconciliation, for both parties, involves the rebuilding of damaged relationships.
Any grievance should be treated seriously because of its significance to the person concerned. In addition no-one should be disadvantaged, for example, in relation to new appointments or access to training, by bringing a grievance or by acting as a ‘friend’ to someone who has registered a grievance.
The scope of the procedure
This procedure does not cover complaints of misconduct against clergy, which must continue to be dealt with under the appropriate disciplinary procedure. It is intended to deal with grievances between clergy not amounting to misconduct and also grievances about conditions of service.
Examples of matters that might give rise to a grievance include:
- health and safety concerns;
- equal opportunities in matters such as training, and terms of service;
- relationships at work;
- issues arising from a change in terms of service, the introduction of new working practices, or a change in status.
The Informal Stage
A Cleric who has a grievance should in the first instance discuss the grievance directly with the person with whom the Cleric is aggrieved. More often than not the grievance can be resolved without recourse to the formal Grievance Procedure.
If this is not possible or is unsuccessful, a Cleric should raise the matter with a senior colleague or with another suitable person, in order to explore whether the matter might be resolved informally.
The Formal Stage
If an informal approach proves incapable of resolving the grievance, the cleric with the grievance should refer the matter in writing to a senior colleague in accordance with the following guidance:
- if the grievance is against another cleric then the matter should be referred to the archdeacon in whose archdeaconry the person against whom the grievance is brought resides;
- if the grievance is against an assistant bishop, archdeacon or dean then the matter should be referred to the Diocesan Bishop;
- if the grievance is against a diocesan bishop then the matter should be referred to the Archbishop;
- if the grievance is against the Archbishop then the matter should be referred to the Senior Bishop.
The person to whom the grievance has been referred should, in consultation with an HR advisor of the Representative Body, decide whether there is an issue that can be properly dealt with under the Grievance Procedure. If the senior colleague considers that the grievance amounts to an allegation of misconduct it should be dealt with as a disciplinary matter. It must not be dealt with under the Grievance Procedure.
If the senior colleague decides that no further action should be taken under the formal stage of the Grievance Procedure he or she should write within 28 days of receiving the grievance stating the reasons for the decision. The aggrieved person may request the senior colleague in writing to reconsider his or her decision within 14 days of receiving the decision. Only one such request may be made.
If the senior colleague decides there is an issue which can be dealt with under the Grievance Procedure then he or she will convene a meeting with the cleric and also with the other party concerned, and possibly a joint meeting with the parties, to try to resolve the grievance.
Those involved in the process should respect confidentiality. The senior colleague should not enter into discussions relating to the grievance with the parties to the grievance outside the framework of the meetings arranged by the senior colleague in accordance with this Procedure.
If the grievance is satisfactorily resolved, the senior colleague should record the outcome, including any agreed course of action, and within 14 days of the meeting notify the parties concerned and the Diocesan Bishop of the decision who will keep a record.
If following completion of either Step One or Step Two either party remains aggrieved then the grievance can be referred to the Bishop by way of an appeal. Such referral must be made in writing within 20 days of receiving the senior colleague’s decision and must state the reasons for the continued grievance.
The Bishop may convene a meeting with either or both of the parties to try to resolve the grievance. The Bishop will notify the parties of his decision within 14 days of the meeting.
The decision of the Bishop will be final and there is no further right of appeal.
If the initial grievance has been heard by a Bishop or the Archbishop then there is no right of appeal.
- All those involved in dealing with grievances will be trained in the understanding and resolution of conflict and in mediation.
- A Cleric has the right to be accompanied at all stages of the procedure by a trade union representative or work colleague.
- Senior colleagues or the Bishop will be accompanied by an HR advisor of the Representative Body
- The HR advisor will be responsible for ensuring the proper conduct of the procedure including all secretarial arrangements.
- In the event of an appeal the Bishop will be accompanied by an HR advisor not previously involved in the grievance.