The Church of England's Archbishops' Council is establishing a working group to identify ways of amending the employment arrangements of Anglican clergy with a view to enhancing safeguards against injustice and ensuring a proper balance between rights and responsibilities. In its response to the Department of Trade and Industry discussion document on employment status and statutory employment rights issued in July, the Archbishops' Council said it accepts that there are 'unsatisfactory features in the present situation and that these need to be addressed'. A statement from the council says: "We accept that, for some clergy, the present arrangements do not provide sufficient safeguard against possible injustice. For a greater number, it is also at least arguable that the present arrangements do not provide an effective framework of accountability." The response also points out that there could be 'major implications for the nature of the relationship between bishop and clergy and for the way in which parochial clergy are deployed, including raising questions over the sustainability of the clergy's historic right to the freehold'. The group's first task will be to produce a report during 2003 on ways of improving the position of that minority of clergy who have neither freehold nor contract. The review will be chaired by Professor David McClean, Professor of Law at Sheffield University, and will be conducted in close consultation with clergy, who are involved at every level of the Church's synodical government, and with all others with an interest, including the AMICUS union.
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