Amicus is launching an anti-bullying campaign for church workers following a surge in the number of cases the union is dealing with.
Rachael Maskell, national officer for the not-for-profit sector at the union, said it hoped to raise awareness of how widespread bullying was in the Church, and offer guidance to ministers on good employment practice. The campaign is expected to be formally launched in the New Year.
The union, which represents 2,500 faith workers across all denominations, estimates that it receives at least one call a week from religious ministers who are being bullied by superiors.
“The majority of church cases we deal with have a bullying element,” Maskell said. “There is a general naivety surrounding the church. Ministers give their life to it and bullying can have a bad effect on their wellbeing. But the Church does not want to admit there is a problem.”
Maskell said the union was developing guidance for ministers and meeting regularly with Church of England representatives. “We want all churches to be exemplary employers and our campaign will be channelled and adapted to match the needs of ministers,” she said.
Su Morgan, HR director at the Archbishops’ Council, the governing body of the Church of England, said bullying was a highly complex and sensitive area.
“Bullying is often down to a combination of issues – inexperienced management, poor performance and a lack of communication. I’m not aware that the Church of England is any worse than any other organisation,” she said.
Morgan said the Church was currently reviewing the terms of service for its clergy, and that protecting workers from bullying was an important element of that.