[Episcopal News Service — Baltimore, Maryland] The House of Bishops on July 9 concurred with earlier actions by the House of Deputies, adopting two resolutions that would offer paid family leave and health insurance to lay and clergy church employees through the Denominational Health Plan.
Resolution A003 urges, but does not require, dioceses to adopt a uniform paid family leave policy for all employees, which can be paid for through insurance products employers purchase from the Church Pension Group or other commercial insurance companies, once those products become available.
The resolution states that paid family leave “is a justice issue which we are obligated as Christians to address without further delay, and that from the beginning, said policy should provide for parity between lay and clergy employees.”
At a minimum, the resolution requires dioceses to provide paid parental or bonding leave as well as paid caregiver leave of between six and 16 weeks, with job protection for employees who take it. Dioceses will decide which family members qualify for this provision, as well as the level of compensation to be paid, with the minimum being 70% of usual salary, raging to 100%, depending in the coverage an employer wishes to purchase.
An amended Resolution D034 creates a new task force to provide advice about the Denominational Health Plan, which is provided through Church Pension Group and which churches and dioceses are required to provide to clergy and some lay employees. The task force is charged with reviewing the structure and offerings of the existing health plan, paying special attention to the cost of premiums. It will provide the 81st General Convention in 2024 with options to reduce health insurance costs across The Episcopal Church.
When several bishops wondered whether unique circumstances in their dioceses would be considered by the task force, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said that as one of the people charged with appointing task force members, he would make certain those concerns are brought forward.
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