20 May 2011

Methodist Church granted leave to appeal employment ruling

The Methodist Church has been granted leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal against the judgement of an Employment Appeal Tribunal that Methodist ministers should be counted as employees and cases concerning them heard by Employment Tribunals. Methodist ministers have always been treated by the Church as office holders rather than employees.

Leave to appeal has been granted by the Court on the grounds that the appeal "has a real prospect of success on the basis of the submissions in the skeleton argument dated 14 April 2011. The state of the authorities on the key question of whether a minister of religion is not an employee is unclear and requires further consideration by the court following the case of Percy."

The current case concerns Haley Moore who resigned from being a Methodist minister in 2009.

The Revd. Kenneth Howcroft, Assistant Secretary of the Methodist Conference, said: "The Methodist Church is treating this matter with great seriousness as something that would affect all our ministers. We are pursuing this appeal having taken good legal advice. In doing so we are defending the understanding and rules of the Church about these matters agreed by the Conference. These are long-standing, and the Court of Appeal held as long ago as 1984 that Methodist ministers are not employees. A minister's role is one which is traditionally based on the ethos and laws of the Church rather than on a secular ethos. Our ministers have legal rights of redress under Church procedures. The Methodist Church cares for all who serve it, whether lay or ordained, paid or volunteer, and we want to ensure that we treat everyone fairly and properly." 

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