How we relate to one another

Every diocese should have its own dignity at work policy and anti-bullying and harassment policy.

You can view two examples below:

Please note that a previous 2008 document Dignity at Work is no longer current

Key principles when drafting a Dignity at Work policy

  • An understanding of who is covered by the policy. For example, it could include all clergy holding the bishop’s licence or with permission to officiate, all licensed lay workers, readers, authorised worship assistants and those employed by deaneries, benefices and parishes (e.g. parish-based youth, pastoral or administrative employees), employees of the Diocesan Board of Finance, Cathedral employees and employees in the Diocesan Bishop’s Office. The policy could also apply to all officeholders at parish, benefice, deanery or diocesan level, including churchwardens, treasurers and all PCC and synod members, or all church members.  
  • A clear statement that bullying and harassment is unacceptable and that abuse, bullying or harassment (including of clergy by lay people) will not be tolerated. This should include a commitment from the Diocese to encourage and sustain healthy relationships and support a thriving environment for all staff, lay and clergy. It is important to highlight what the commitment looks like in practice (for example, good leadership, an open transparent culture, training, access to professional advice and expertise, provision of a suitable reporting framework). 
  • A commitment to ensure that all senior people in the diocese receive the necessary training on how to implement the policy.
  • Encouraging a culture where clergy and lay people consult and discuss problems, and there is mutual respect, individuals feel respected and safe, and treat one another with dignity. 
  • An understanding of what bullying and harassment can mean and its effects. Examples of bullying could include:
    • Someone has spread false rumours about you or has insulted you 
    • Someone keeps putting you down in front of others 
    • Being deliberately ignored or left out of events or activities
    • Someone at the same or more junior level as you keeps overruling your authority
    • Being unfairly blocked from promotion, training or future employment opportunities
  • For further definitions please visit the ACAS website.
  • The rights and responsibilities of all those covered under the policy to do all they can to prevent bullying and harassment during the fulfilling of their duties of office. 
  • Provision of a framework for ensuring that complaints of bullying and harassment are dealt with promptly, fairly, confidentially and sensitively. This would include signposting to relevant complaints, whistleblowing or grievance policies so if inappropriate behaviour does occur, individuals know where they are able to disclose it. It can also be helpful to provide information about informal resolution. 
  • Sometimes it can also be helpful to signpost to external agencies for additional support for those handling complaints or experiencing bullying and harassment.

Clergy guidelines for professional conduct 

The primary aims of these Guidelines are:

  • To encourage the clergy – deacons, priests and bishops – to aspire to the highest possible standards of conduct throughout a lifetime of ministry;
  • To identify certain basic minimum standards of behaviour;
  • To seek to ensure the welfare and the protection of individuals and groups with whom the clergy work, and of the clergy and their families;
  • To provide safe and effective boundaries for clerical ministry;
  • To encourage personal and corporate ministerial development


The Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing

The Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing was made an Act of Synod at the February 2020 Group of Sessions of the General Synod. The Covenant is the expressed view of the mind of the Church of England on issues relating to clergy care and wellbeing.

Please use the link below for resources designed to help initiate and guide discussions around clergy care and to engage all parts of the church including Bishops, Parish level stakeholders as well as clergy themselves:

General Synod

When a large number of people of differing views work together discussing matters of importance that engender strong and deeply held feelings it is perhaps inevitable that feelings will run high. The General Synod’s Business Committee has brought together a series of connected documents into a broader policy which takes a holistic look at how we work, talk and debate with each other:

Social Media Community guidelines

While written specifically for all users who engage with the Church of England’s and Archbishops’ national social media channels, these guidelines are built on universal principles. They are a resource for Christians, people of other faiths and people of no faith. Dioceses and local churches across the Church of England are welcome and encouraged to adopt them.