The Uniting Church in Australia Synod of NSW and ACT (the Synod) Ministry Handbook (handbook) is provided as a guide and reference for matters relating to placements and entitlements for those in ministry within the Synod.

It is intended for use by those ordained in ministry placements as well as for those responsible for the pastoral and administrative oversight such as representatives of Church Councils, Presbyteries and Synod Boards.

*Please note: The sections below are snapshots of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

The use of the title ‘minister’ in this document refers to Ordained, Minister of the Word and Deacon acknowledging that the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practiced defines the term minister more broadly.

It should not be used for matters relating to Ministry of Pastor or Lay employment. Information on these 2 categories can be found in the Lay Specified Ministry of Pastor Handbook.

This Handbook is provided for your information and should be referenced in conjunction with the relevant Assembly Regulations as well as Synod By Laws - Section 12.

Information is published on an annual basis prior to the start of each new financial year in the Stipend and Allowance Table available on the Synod website. This information is sent to the Treasurers or equivalents of all appointing bodies and to ministers.

Whilst this handbook is intended as a summary of key policies, guidelines and procedures relating to the remuneration and entitlements of the Synod’s ministers, it may not cover every possible scenario.

All interpretation shall be determined by the Synod. Where the reader has questions or requires clarification, please refer to the Ministry Matters Contact List.

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

As a minister and the appointing body discern a match, the arrangements are documented in the Terms of Placement document (ToP). This is not a contract of employment as Ministers are not employees, but a covenant which sets forth the expectations of both parties. As the overseeing body, Presbytery PRC need to approve all ToP documents. Synod also needs to ensure that all arrangements are in line with ATO Rulings and church procedure.

The Terms of Placement is a Synod document authorised by the SGOC and the SSC. The wording may not be changed or adapted in any way.

Once a ToP is drafted, it should be sent (in draft form) to ACOMP at acomp@nswact.uca.org.au for checking:

The Terms of Placement shall be signed by the following parties:

  • Minister
  • Church Council Secretary / Presbytery Secretary
  • PRC Chair / Secretary
  • Associate Secretary

It then goes to PRC or equivalent for formal approval. PRC Chairperson, the appointing body and the minister keep a signed copy of the ToP with a copy being sent to the Secretariat for filing in the minister’s folder.

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

Ordained ministers are not employees. They are servants of God and as such do not receive salary or wages. Instead, ministers are provided with a stipend and associated allowances (‘the Stipend Package’).

A useful paper about the underpinnings of the basis of stipends is included in the Appendices and Reference section, The Theology of the Stipend.

Ministers cannot be paid less than the minimum stipend figure (pro-rated accordingly for part-time placements).

Ministers can be paid above the minimum stipend in certain instances (referred to as a stipend uplift). This may apply to some Synod and Presbytery placements.

All proposals regarding uplift must be approved by the Presbytery PRC and then if supported provided to the Associate Secretary for approval under SSC minute 36/19SC.

No Placement has discretion to approve an uplift on its own recognisance.

 

Stipend and Allowance Table

Minister Annual Stipend Letter (Template)

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

From time to time there may be additional payments offered to the minister.

No minister in a full-time placement is entitled to keep additional remuneration from any source beyond the agreed stipend package. Any additional funds should be redirected to the placement including casual ad hoc preaching, and travel.

In the case of events such as weddings, funerals and casual lecturing, in a full-time placement, the donation should be forwarded to the appointing body. In a part-time placement, should the event fall within the minister’s normal  hours, it shall also be forwarded to the appointing body.

If the placement is part-time and the event falls outside of agreed working hours, then the minister is entitled to receive the payment as reportable income.

Any additional financial benefits must be paid via a payroll process. The receipt of cash benefits is considered tax avoidance and not in alignment with the UCA ethos.

Code of Ethics - Section 5 sets out the expectations of the church regarding “Gifts and Fees.”

It is up to each minister to be aware of, and fulfil, these expectations.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

All ministers are entitled to housing (Manse) accommodation if their placement is equal to 50% or more. For placements less than 50% housing or housing benefit is not provided.

For Congregational placements, a Manse may be more than a family home. As each ministers’ requirements may be different a fit for purpose accommodation can be negotiated.

Where practical, the Manse will be within the Congregational bounds. The advice of the Synod Property Team should be sought on each of these matters very early in the planning stages of acquiring or renovating a Manse.

Some exemptions apply. Where two UCA ministers share a home, the cost of the provision of housing is split between the appointing bodies. If one appointing body provides the Manse, the other pays the full applicable residence benefit to them. This will enable expenses and maintenance of property to be shared fairly.

If there is no Manse available the appointing body may request that the minister live within the area of the placement and provide accommodation which is considered by the minister, placement body and Presbytery to be appropriate for the minister and their personal situation. This may be a rented property.

Where a property is rented, the placement will meet all costs associated with the rental. The property should be considered as available for rental long term so that the minister and their family are not disrupted with continual moves. Where a move must occur as a result of the lease ending, the placement is to meet the removal costs, not the Synod.

The appointing body may not offer the residence benefit in lieu of providing rented accommodation.

Information on the acceptable guidelines for a Manse is available from the Synod’s Property Services website.

 

Manse Agreement (Statement of Mutual Expectations)

Residence Benefit Guidelines (section in the Stipend and Allowance Table)

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

Some placements may require a ‘Travel and Hospitality Allowance to facilitate the proper functioning of the role.

A Corporate credit card is recommended for exclusive use for such expenditure with the normal process of receipts and reconciliations required.

THIS SECTION IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION PENDING NEW POLICIES BEING FINALISED

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

Dependent on the type of placement, ministers are entitled to a range of options and allowances regarding their role-related travel to allow them to serve the direct mission and priorities of the placement.

This does not include travelling to and from manse/home, nor does it include travel serving the wider church where reimbursement is available. It is able to be paid into the MEF as a tax-free component.

The values of these allowances are reviewed annually and communicated as part of the “Stipend and Allowance Table” as approved by SSC.

 

Motor Vehicle Supplied

The appointing body may provide a fully maintained vehicle for the minister’s use. Conditions will be consistent with the Synod Policy*.

THIS SECTION IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION PENDING NEW POLICIES BEING FINALISED

Employment Manual Section 2. (Refer page 7. Motor Vehicle)

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

The Resource Allowance is intended to contribute towards the minister’s professional development. This may include training, seminars and other resources.

The amount is reviewed annually by the SGOC and communicated as part of the “Stipend and Allowance Table”.

 

Payment of the Resource Allowance

Regardless whether the placement is full-time or part-time, the Resource Allowance is payable in full and is paid into the MEF as it is tax free.

A minister may only receive the allowance once if in multiple, part-time placements. In this instance the multiple placements would share the payment.

A tax deduction cannot be claimed for any items purchased with the Resource Allowance as tax was not paid in the first place.

Ministers serving in short-term supply roles (three months or less) are not entitled to receive the Resource Allowance. Should the supply be extended beyond three months, the resource allowance shall be paid from the beginning of the fourth month. It shall not be back dated to the commencement of the initial supply agreement. For supply roles greater than three months, the resource allowance is applied.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

The Ministers Support Fund (MSF) Levy is paid in relation to each Minister in placement and is applicable to non-retired ministers only.

The amount is reviewed annually by the SGOC and recorded in the “Stipend and Allowance Table”.

It provides for:

  • The accrual for ministers Long Leave entitlements
  • Assisting Appointing Bodies with the costs associated with their Minister taking long leave or maternity/adoption leave
  • Workers Compensation premiums
  • Benefits to dependents on the death of a minister in placement
  • The provision of Financial Planning and Advice Seminars

 

Payment

MSF contributions made on behalf of ministers are sent to Synod Finance Team monthly via direct debit or cheque.

For those in part-time placements, the contribution by the appointing body is equal to the rate of the placement. If the minister wishes, they are able to personally ‘top-up’ the remaining percentage equal to a full-time placement to maintain a 100% long leave entitlement.

For further information and assistance please contact msf@nswact.uca.org.au

 

Direct Debit Request form for Ministers Support Fund  Print-out, fill-in and send back.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

Ministers have the choice of paying into either one of:

  • An approved superannuation fund of their choice

 OR

The amount payable on behalf of the minister is reviewed annually by Mercer and communicated as part of the “Stipend and Allowance Table”.

Where a minister chooses the option of personal choice of superannuation fund instead of the Beneficiary Fund, the contributions made by the placement must be equal to that paid to the Beneficiary Fund.

For those in part-time placements, the contribution is prorated according to the placement.

When the minister chooses the Beneficiary Fund, the minister is required to make a personal contribution. This is made from their post-tax earnings.

The personal contribution is not required from those paying into their choice of superannuation fund.

Subject to the rules of their fund, ministers may elect to salary sacrifice into their superannuation fund.

Any voluntary salary sacrifice to superannuation will be a reportable salary sacrifice and must be declared on the annual payment summary.

Ministers should consult a financial advisor to discuss what type of benefit might best suit their context.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

In line with ATO guidelines and Synod policy allows that ministers may elect to place up to 30% of the minimum stipend, plus 100% of their allowances into a “Ministers Expense Facility” (MEF).

The figure of 30% is a decision of the UCA National Assembly.

It is an account of the appointing body but used to pay authorised expenses incurred by the minister.

There are strict ATO rules around the operation of these accounts which require full compliance.

Uniting Financial Services assist appointing bodies with the opening of a Ministers Expense Facility (MEF). More information about Uniting Financial Services can be found on their website at www.unitingfinancial.com.au.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

Professional supervision is defined in the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice (3.9(c)) as a relationship with a supervisor to assist in enhancing the quality of ministry by enabling the minister to maintain the boundaries of the pastoral relationship, and to intentionally reflect on their ministry practice and context.

As part of their self-care, ministers have a responsibility to ensure they receive regular professional supervision. (3.8(b) and 3.9(c)(d)). It is also a requirement of the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice (COEMP) that all those in active ministry meet regularly with a Professional Supervisor. The appointing body generally meets the cost of professional Supervision for ordained ministers up to an amount determined by the SGOC (currently $850pa.) The purpose of Professional Supervision is to ensure that each ministry practitioner maintains high ethical standards, reflects on the quality of their ministry, and engages in ongoing formation and education.

Professional Supervision for ordained ministers in placement is compulsory. It allows for the Synod to:

  • Have a consistent practice and expectation of informed ethical ministry practice
  • Ensure a high standard of supervision by requiring professional supervision from a qualified supervisor, or  a Supervisor trained and authorised by the Synod
  • Have a Presbytery record of the name and qualification of supervisor
  • Receive a signed certification from the Supervisor as to the number of sessions attended each year, which would also be added to the ministers’ presbytery records.

Eight (8) supervised sessions per year is the minimum expectation. It is acknowledged that those in a rural and/or isolated community may experience difficulty in accessing supervision and may have to look at different options. Ideally supervision will take the form of face-to-face contact with supervisors, however a number of different models exist that may involve phone or videoconference supervision. Minister-to-minister supervision or peer group supervision is no longer considered professional in its delivery. Supervision should be a regular commitment – ideally every month to six weeks.

UCA Supervisors

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

Due to the changing nature of society and the role, purpose and value of the Church within it, it is vital for those in ministry to be able to respond to, and minister effectively. All ordained ministers in placements those awaiting placement and those in ministry serving in an approved placement are expected to engage in continuing education (CoEMP 1.7; 3.4a).

 

Professional Standards Training

In response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and taking into account developments in other Synods, the Synod of NSW & ACT established new requirements in terms of Professional Standards training for all those in active ministry.

These requirements for Professional Standards Training apply to everyone in active ministry including the following:

  • Candidates for ordained ministries
  • Deacons and Ministers of the Word in placement, supply or awaiting placement
  • Ministry of Pastor positions
  • Lay people employed in ministry positions, even if these are not recognised as Pastor positions
  • Ministers from other churches serving in an approved placement
  • Ministers seeking admission as ministers of the UCA
  • Retired ministers who are still in active ministry (this means anything involving conducting a regular service through to providing supply).

 

It is a requirement that all those in active ministry will participate in the following training:

  • Foundations of Ethical Ministry Course
  • Ethical Ministry Reflection Workshops
  • Professional Supervision
  • Safe Church Awareness Training

Annual Reports: Presbyteries should conduct an annual appraisal for each minister under their oversight. Presbyteries may create their own appraisal form or use the Specified Minister Annual Report (Template) provided by Synod.

Each minister is required to submit this report as part of their accountability. Presbytery has the authorisation to manage this process and determine any potential consequences for failure to be accountable.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

In a part-time placement, the expected ministry responsibilities must reflect the agreed placement percentage.

Balancing ministry demand against placement percentage can be challenging. It will be helpful if the appointing body and minister negotiate the specific responsibilities and record them in an agreement.

A range of time management tools may be used by the minister and appointing body. An example is the 21 units per week model included below.

This is based on ‘chunking’ the week’s demands into units. One unit approximates 3 hours. A full-time placement is based on the expectation of 14 units equaling a 42-hour working week. A minister would select the 14 units that best cater to the demands of that week.

Part-time is pro-rated according to the placement percentage. This also enables the minister and appointing body to assess the placement ministry demands according to the allocated percentage of placement.

Timeframe

Mon

Tues

Wed

Thurs

Frid

Sat

Sun

Morning

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

Afternoon

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

Evening

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

One unit

 

To assist in determining how many units might be expected for a particular percentage of placement, refer the table below:

Number of Units per week

Proportion of Full Stipend

1

10%

2

15%

3

20%

4

30%

5

35%

6

45%

7

50%

8

55%

9

65%

10

70%

11

80%

12

85%

13

90%

14+

100%

Note: this is offered as an option/example and is not compulsory.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

The Synod shall take responsibility for 90% of the cost of relocation to  a maximum amount of (currently) $5,000). The receiving placement shall contribute 10%. Placements involving multiple congregations shall equally share the 10% contribution.

This arrangement shall provide for ministers moving:  

  • into their first placement
  • between placements
  • after their final placement to their place of retirement (within NSW and ACT)

The process is coordinated by the Secretariat Office who will provide to the minister, information about obtaining quotes, preferred removalist and what is covered.

When a minister moves from one Synod to another, the cost is shared equally between the two.

Ministers must allow for reasonable consideration of time (e.g. eight weeks) when organising a removal, particularly if it is between Christmas and the first two weeks of January. If moves are left until the last moment (without adequate explanation), the Synod cannot guarantee it will cover any additional costs that result.

A Removal Inventory is required to be completed. Attention should be paid to the completion of the inventory as it forms the basis for all subsequent quotes. Should an inventory prove to be significantly inaccurate, any increased cost may be at the minister’s expense.

 

When a Manse/property is vacated, it is the responsibility of the minister to leave the premises in a clean state, including carpets professionally cleaned, gardens and lawns tidy, pools clean. No rubbish or unwanted items should be left at the property.

If an appointing body needs to call in cleaners/gardeners/rubbish removal, this is to be expensed to the vacating minister. A final inspection should be conducted with the minister and placement representative present to agree on handover. All keys / remotes should be returned.

Manse Agreement (Statement of Mutual Expectations) is available to assist ministers and appointing bodies in their inspection and maintenance of property under their stewardship.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

A variety of ministry needs exist with the Church. Each serves a specific context and may be used only in appropriate circumstances. These may not be used as a substitute for a placed minister.

 

Supply

Supply Ministry is a specific ministry normally provided by ordained ministers. It can range from a single Sunday service to a longer-term ongoing ministry, full-time or part-time. It usually only exceeds a twelve-month period in exceptional circumstances. It may be provided by a minister in active ministry, including awaiting a placement, or undertaking supply ministry by choice, or by a retired minister, including a minister whose health precludes a placement but not supply ministry.

Supply is mostly used in situations involving ‘cover’ for Long Leave, extended Sick or Parental leave, or between placements.

Supply arrangements should be documented in the relevant Supply Agreement (Template) for either Non-Retired or Retired Ministers.

Supply ministry situations are often tailored to each need; however, two broad descriptors exist.

Short term supply: A continuous period of ministry lasting for not more than three months.

Long term supply: A continuous period of ministry lasting for more than three months.

 

Casual Preaching

A minister may be invited to preach on a casual basis. This would be determined by availability and willingness. Should any minister preach as part of their regular ministry duties, they shall not benefit from the casual preaching fee as they are already receiving the stipend.

All financial benefits must be paid via a Payroll process. The receipt of any cash payment is considered tax avoidance and not in line with UCA ethos.

The fees for casual preaching on a per service basis are outlined on the “Stipend and Allowance Table”.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

 

The health, safety and wellbeing of our ministers are key priorities for the Synod. In addition to UCA pastoral support and supervision, all ministers in placement are able to access BENESTAR, the Synod’s Employee Assistance Provider (known as EAP).

The EAP is a confidential, voluntary counselling service available to our ministers and their immediate family members. It is independent and aims to help  support physical, mental health and wellbeing, resolve challenges and to reach set goals.

The main features include:

  • Confidential counselling, coaching and support with an experienced Psychologist
  • Appointments via face-to-face meeting, telephone, video or eCounselling
  • Short term assistance with the resolution of personal and/or work-related challenges
  • Access to other services such as legal advice, financial counselling, nutrition advice

To arrange an appointment or for further information about the EAP and your entitlements:

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

There are various types of leave available for ordained ministers in placement. As ministers are not employees, the entitlements under the National Employment Standards do not apply and the following guidelines and processes should be followed.

Ministers are able to take their leave entitlements at a time negotiated with, and mutually agreeable to, their appointing body. Ministers may not take leave without consulting their appointing body.

As part of being accountable, all ministers must complete the necessary leave forms and follow the required approval processes.

 

Ministers Leave Form - Recreation (Annual) Leave - Note: Please use this form to apply for the following leave type by checking the relevant box or noting in ‘other’ leave type:

Application to Accumulate Leave

Study Leave

Sick Leave

Carers Leave

Compassionate Leave

Maternity Leave

Domestic Family Violence Leave

 

Minister Leave Entitlements

Minister Placement Entitlement Guide

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

Rest and recreation are essential for effective ministry. Ministers should be encouraged to regularly use their annual entitlement.

Recreation Leave was previously known as Annual Leave.

Ministers in full-time placement are entitled to 30 calendar days of Recreation Leave each year inclusive of Saturday and Sunday but excluding public holidays. This does not mean 30 single days and is the secular equivalent of 4 full weeks of leave, plus the benefit of the additional weekend.

This provides the minister with five weekends as part of their recreation leave.

To apply for recreation leave, the Minister shall complete a Ministers Leave Form. The approval of the appointing body is required in line with these guidelines.

Recreation Leave should be taken during the year in which it falls due unless there are extenuating circumstances. Ministers must consult both appointing body and Presbytery Pastoral Relations Committee (PRC) (or equivalent) to obtain approval to accrue Recreation Leave.

Recreation leave is to be pre-approved by the church council or appointing body equivalent. Recreation Leave records are to be kept by the appointing body.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

The purpose of Study Leave is to provide an opportunity for continuing education and professional development for ministry. It is not an automatic entitlement and must be used to enhance skills for ministry related development.

Study Leave is intended for agreed courses or programs only, taken at a time negotiated with the appointing body.

The presbytery annual appraisal should request:

  • an account of what was studied, key learnings, and ministry benefits
  • An outline of the proposed study plan for the coming year.

Ministers in full-time placement are entitled to 14 calendar days of Study Leave each placement year inclusive of Saturday and Sunday but excluding public holidays.

14 Calendar days ensures that the minister has the benefit of 2 weekends. Study Leave can be taken as required with no more than 2 weekends included.

Public holidays do not form part of the Study Leave.

Normal remuneration arrangements apply during Study Leave.

Part-time ministers are entitled to pro-rata Study Leave per year dependent on the percentage of placement. Normal remuneration applies. For example, a 50% placement shall receive 50% of the study leave allowance = seven calendar days.

Ministers Leave Form

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

A minister in full-time or part-time placement who becomes ill and is unable to carry out their normal duties, is entitled to sick leave.

From time to time, ministers in placement may also need to take leave to care for a sick dependent, known as carers leave.

Ministers Leave Form

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

Up to 7 compassionate leave days can be taken when a member of an employee’s immediate family or household dies or develops a life-threatening illness or injury. Compassionate leave is
non-cumulative.

Immediate family refers to:

  • spouse
  • de-facto partner
  • child
  • parent
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • sibling, or
  • child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee’s spouse or de facto partner

This definition includes step relations (e.g. stepparents and stepchildren) as well as adoptive relations.

Ministers Leave Form

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

 

 

The purpose of Maternity Leave is to provide the opportunity for a minister as primary care giver to prepare for the birth of their child/ren and provide care during the initial period following the birth.

Leave may commence 4 weeks before the anticipated birth.

The total leave entitlement is up to 52 weeks for the birth of the child/ren.

The remuneration arrangements that apply are as follows:

Stipend Payment

  • First 13 weeks on full stipend; then
  • Following 13 weeks on half stipend; then
  • Remaining 26 weeks unpaid

Ministers Leave Form

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

A government-funded Dad and Partner Pay initiative is available to those who meet the eligibility requirements. This initiative provides two weeks paid leave at the national minimum wage for parents who are not the primary carer of their children. Dad and Partner Pay can be received at any time in the first year after the child’s birth or adoption, as long as the dad or partner is on unpaid leave. This means that Dad and Partner Pay must start within 50 weeks of the child’s birth or adoption to ensure that payments are made in time. To be eligible for this federal government entitlement, the Dad or Partner must meet the Department of Human Services eligibility criteria and must either be on unpaid leave from their role or not working. For further details, please contact the Department of Human Services.

Entitlement and Remuneration for Partner Leave

For all ministers in placement, the appointing body will “top up” the difference between the government funded Dad and Partner Pay and their normal remuneration, if it is taken within 6 weeks of the birth of the child. This is to allow them to spend some quality time with their family without a financial burden or dipping into their recreation leave.

Ministers Leave Form

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

Directly following the adoption of a child up to pre-school age, the general conditions are those that apply as with maternity leave, including the Synod meeting the cost of supply during the period of paid leave. Leave may be extended beyond the paid period up to 52 weeks in total, on an unpaid basis. Again, the provisions applicable are those which apply in respect of extension of maternity leave and applies to male and female ministers.

Ministers Leave Form

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

The purpose of Long Leave is to refresh a minister after extended service.

Ministers are entitled to two calendar months (8.6667 weeks) after 10 years’ service, and 1 month (4.3333 weeks) for each 5 years thereafter, up to the date of retirement.

One (1) year’s credit is given for the 3 years study undertaken at United Theological College (Bachelor of Theology Program or above). This is applied only after the full 10 years of service has been completed. This means after 10 years’ service a minister may take long leave consistent with 11 years.

Given the purpose of Long leave is to refresh the minister, the full Long Leave entitlement should be taken as soon as possible after the date at which it is reached (i.e. 10 years of service).

The former practice of the 10% gifting was discontinued from 1 January 2020. Ministers are remunerated as normal whilst on Long Leave including the Travel Allowance.

All applications for Long Leave must be approved by the relevant church council or appointing body using the Minister Long Leave Application Form.

Long Leave should be taken in minimum one week lots.

The signed application is then sent to the Presbytery Pastoral Relations Committee for their review and approval.

Presbytery shall send a copy of the signed application to the minister, appointing body and the Synod Secretariat for processing.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

The Synod recognises the devastating impact Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) can have on the lives of those who experience it, including their work and financial security. Ministers who are experiencing or escaping DFV are encouraged to advise their Presbytery Minister or Associate Secretary so that appropriate support is provided wherever possible.

The Synod is committed to providing leave and other support to ministers who experience domestic and family violence (DFV).

Minsters personally experiencing DFV may access up to five (5) days paid leave per annum of Domestic Violence Leave for the purposes of attending to:

  • Medical appointments
  • Legal proceedings
  • Accommodation matters including relocation
  • Childcare and education matters
  • Counselling; or
  • To make other safety arrangements which are related to domestic and family violence

Leave may be taken in units of one hour, half days, and full days. Full-time ministers are eligible for up to 5 days per annum, with part-time placements eligible for up to 3 days per annum.

In addition to Domestic Violence Leave, ministers can make an application for additional leave. The amount and type of leave provided will be determined by the individual’s situation through consulting Presbytery Minister and the Associate Secretary.

Domestic Violence Leave is noncumulative.

Ministers will need to talk to Presbytery Minister or Associate Secretary should they need to negotiate temporary flexible arrangements, and when returning after leave due to DFV related issues, are encouraged to talk to their Presbytery Minister or the Associate Secretary regarding any ongoing safety concerns they may have.

Ministers who provide support to a family member experiencing DFV may access allocated  Domestic Violence leave for the purpose of:

  • accompanying that person to legal proceedings, counselling, appointments with a medical or legal practitioner
  • assisting with relocations or other safety arrangements; or
  • other activities associated with the family and domestic violence including caring for children

Domestic Family Violence Leave

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

There are a range of less common leave scenarios relating to ministers outlined below:

  • Public Holidays
  • Sundays Free from ministerial responsibilities
  • Jury Duty
  • Defense Reservist or Emergency Services Leave

Public Holidays

Public holidays are as per the NSW/ACT government’s gazetted holidays.

Public holidays are not included in periods of Recreation or Study Leave but are included in all other forms of Leave. Ministers in congregational placements generally work through public holidays such as Christmas and Easter. It is the responsibility of the minister and appointing body to agree on how this should be addressed.

Sundays Free from Ministerial Responsibilities

A minister in full-time placement may be entitled to four Sundays per annum free of ministerial duties. This will be negotiated as part of the Terms of Placement and is at the discretion of the appointing body and Presbytery. Such non-preaching Sundays may not be accumulated. Where such time is not taken in any year it is automatically forgone. Should any special arrangements be required, then the agreed outcomes should be documented in the Terms of Placement.

Part-time placements are entitled as follows:

  • 5 FTE - 0.6FTE are entitled to two Sundays per annum
  • 7FTE - 0.8FTE are entitled to three Sundays per annum
  • 9 FTE - 100 % FTE are entitled to four Sundays per annum

Where the minister in any part-time placement is expected to preach every Sunday, then they are entitled to four Sundays per annum free of ministerial duties. The non-preaching Sundays are non-cumulative.

Jury Duty

UCA ordained ministers should exercise their entitlement to be exempted from Jury Duty. Please contact the Synod Office for letters of exemption.

Defense Reservist or Emergency Services Leave

UCA ordained ministers may apply for Community Service leave which is subject to their appointing body’s approval. Such approval would not be unreasonably withheld

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

Treasurers are reminded that all ministers are covered by the Synod for workers compensation insurance purposes. The premium is paid from contributions received through the sickness and accident component of the Ministers Support Fund Levy.

This policy is only applicable to ordained ministers. Separate policies are held for both NSW and ACT.

If the congregation employs other staff, including lay persons in ordained minister’s roles, separate arrangements need to be made for Workers Compensation insurance. The minister should not be included in any declarations submitted to the insurer.

Guidance on obtaining workers compensation insurance cover should be sought from the Synod’s Risk & Compliance Team, on 0476 807 643, in the first instance.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

As part of the Church’s commitment to working with Government, the following obligations are part of any ordained minister’s legal and ethical responsibility:

 

Police Check

Certain parts of the church may require a police check for example, Uniting. Should this be required, guidance will be provided as to the required process.

 

Working with Children and/or Vulnerable People

NSW Requirements: The Working with Children Check (WWCC) is a legal requirement for every ordained minister of a religious body within NSW, regardless of whether they are directly engaged with children in ministry. Retired ministers, whose full WWCC may have expired during their retirement require a volunteer WWCC as long as they are not in supply or other paid forms of ministry.

The outcome of a check is either a clearance to work with children or a bar against working with children. If cleared, the check will be valid for five years, however applicants are continuously monitored.

ACT Requirements: The Working with Vulnerable People Check (WWVP) is a legal requirement for for every ordained minister of a religious body within the ACT, regardless of whether they are directly engaged with vulnerable people in ministry.

The outcome of a check is either a clearance to work with vulnerable people or a bar against working with vulnerable people. If cleared, the check will be valid for three years, however applicants are continuously monitored.

NSW and ACT: Some ministers will need to obtain both WWCC and WWVP due to their geographical location. For example, a minister placed at Goulburn or Queanbeyan may minister in NSW and ACT, and so would be required to obtain both Checks

 

Marriage Celebrant Requirements

Following ordination, a minister is able to register as a religious celebrant with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). BDM allocate a registration number which must be quoted on all subsequent marriage paperwork. Unless a minister is duly registered, he/she will be unable to conduct any marriage ceremony. Please complete a Nomination for Registration of Minister of Religion Form and a Form 10/11 (additional information to accompany Nomination for Registration of Minister of Religion form). Please send both forms to the Synod Secretariat for processing.

For information on the legal requirements for religious celebrants and/or to order stationary, please visit the Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages - Marriage Celebrants.

Mandatory Reporting Obligations

From 1 March 2020, the Reportable Conduct Scheme will be transferred to the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian from the NSW Ombudsman under the new Children's Guardian Act 2019. From this date the scheme will now include religious bodies.

For more information, please visit the Office of the Children’s Guardian, NSW Reportable Conduct Scheme.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

‘Discipline in the church is the exercise of spiritual authority with a view to honouring Christ the Head of the Church and ensuring the spiritual well-being of its members.’ Reg 5.1.2

As part of the ordination vows, all ministers pledge to submit to the discipline and authority of the church.

The expectations of how a minister should behave are recounted in the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice (CoEMP).

Any breach of the CoEMP can become grounds for a complaint against a minister.

Participating in a discipline process can range from uncomfortable to deeply painful and each of the discipline committees have different regulations to guide assist in the process.

There are three synod discipline committees

  • Committee for Counselling (C4C)
  • Synod Sexual Misconduct Complaints Committee (SSMCC)
  • Committee for Discipline C4D)

Any complaint made against an ordained minister of the Uniting Church in Australia, or a lay person commissioned into the Ministry of Pastor, and which is unable to be resolved at a local or Presbytery level will be sent to the C4C or SSMCC. Both committees seek reconciliation and healing, enabling all parties to move forward in positive ways.

This is not always possible and so, should it be necessary, a matter may be referred to the C4D. This is a more formal process and can involve legal representation.

 

*Please note: The section above is a snapshot of the key information in the handbook. Click here for the full handbook.

ABN

Australian Business Number

Appointing Body

The placement to which the minister has been called

ATO

Australian Taxation Office

BAS

Business Activity Statement

CoEMP

Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice

DFV

Domestic Family Violence

FBT

Fringe Benefits Tax

GST

Goods and Services Tax

MEF

Ministers Expense Facility
(previously called “Ministers Expense or Benefit Account”)

MSF

Ministers Support Fund

PAYG

Pay As You Go Withholding Tax

Payment Summary

The terminology for what used to be called a Group Certificate

PRC

Pastoral Relations Committee

SGOC

Governance, Remuneration and Nominations Committee

TOP

Terms of Placement

Treasurer

To mean equivalent in Appointing Bodies

UCTAL

Trading as Uniting Church (NSW) Trust Association Limited
(Uniting Financial Services)

VSC

Vehicle Standing Costs