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Act 19, 2010 – Act anent Annual Leave and Leave of Absence for Ministers in Pastoral Charges. 18th May 2010. (As amended by Act 7, 2018 (VI) – Act anent Annual Leave and Leave of Absence for Ministers in Pastoral Charges)

The General Assembly re-enact the regulations for Annual Leave and Leave of Absence for Ministers in Pastoral Charges for reasons other than Illness as follows: Absence from duty under this Act will fall into three categories as follows: (1) Annual Leave; (2) Compassionate Leave; (3) Special Leave.

1. Annual leave. Ministers are encouraged to take at least one day of rest a week. Presbyteries should encourage ministers to follow this practice through the normal course of the activities of its Pastoral Committee. Kirk Sessions should also encourage the minister to follow this practice and should make every effort to relieve the minister of regular pastoral duties on the designated day of rest. In addition to the weekly day of rest, ministers shall be entitled to annual leave as follows:

1.1          Ministers are entitled to 42 days annual leave of which six may be Sundays, in any one calendar year.

1.2          Any one holiday period shall not exceed 28 successive days without the minister informing the Presbytery of his proposed arrangements.

1.3          All holiday entitlement shall be taken up before 31st December or extended to 28th February of the following year with the agreement of the Presbytery.

Ministers are encouraged to plan their holidays well in advance and to make timeous arrangements for cover. Deacons’ Courts are expected to pay for pulpit supply during the minister’s holiday periods as per Act 27, Class 2, 2005.

2. Compassionate leave. Compassionate leave on grounds of bereavement, family illness or special circumstances may be granted to the minister by the Presbytery. The Presbytery Clerk (or other appointed Presbytery representative) is to be authorised to make interim arrangements after consultation with the minister and then report to the Presbytery. The Presbytery, acting through its Pastoral Committee, will take all reasonable pastoral care of the minister and his family during such occasions where Compassionate Leave is considered appropriate.

2.1          Bereavement. In the event of a death in the minister’s family, or of a near relative, or of a dependant, the Minister shall be entitled to receive bereavement leave with pay for up to five working days.

2.2          Family Illness. In the event of serious family illness where the minister’s ability to focus wholly on his duties is impaired, he shall be entitled to compassionate leave. The period of compassionate leave shall be determined by the Presbytery in consultation with the minister and giving due regard to the personal circumstances prevailing at the time.

2.3          Special Circumstances. Where special circumstances apply, it will be open to the Presbytery to extend the period of compassionate leave. The Presbytery, through its Pastoral Committee, shall monitor closely the specific circumstances in each case. The Pastoral Committee may be authorised to make interim arrangements (e.g. appoint Interim Moderator or arrange supply), after consultation with the minister, and then report to Presbytery.

3. Special leave. Special Leave for ministers in pastoral charges may be granted by the Presbytery under the following conditions:

3.1          To undertake work within the Free Church of Scotland, e.g. as a delegate, at the specific request of a department of the Church. In each case the department shall obtain the permission of the Presbytery and the concurrence of the Congregation. The full cost of the minister’s absence shall be borne by the department concerned.

3.2          To undertake work for any organisations outside the Free Church of Scotland. This would involve secondment to an organisation and the organisation concerned would meet the full cost of the minister’s absence, including pension costs. In granting such leave the Presbytery shall have the concurrence of the Congregation.

3.3          To undertake sabbatical leave for study, writing or extra-denominational work. A minister shall be entitled to sabbatical leave for every seven years of service since ordination. Such leave may be granted where the minister has served at least three years in his present charge or position. Such leave of absence, on full stipend, may be granted up to a maximum of four months. The Presbytery shall consult with the Kirk Session and the Mission Board before a final decision is taken. The Congregation and the Mission Board shall have the right of appeal.

3.3.1   The minister shall bring firm proposals for study, writing or extra-denominational work to the Presbytery when submitting his application for sabbatical leave.

3.3.2    The minister shall bring a report to the Presbytery and the Mission Board when the period of sabbatical leave has been completed.

3.3.3    A minister shall, at all times, inform his congregation of his proposed absence and of pastoral arrangements during such absence.

3.3.4   The pension rights of ministers shall be conserved as long as paid leave extends.