ST. LOUIS – Ruth McCollum, moderator of the Church Polity and Ordered Ministries Committee, told the assembly that much of their time in committee was spent discussing family leave policies. Five overtures dealing with family leave came to the committee and after they spent two days in deliberation, the committee concluded that two days was not enough to create a substantive and workable policy. In recognition of that reality, the committee brought to the floor of the assembly item number 06-NB, new business to create a task force on family leave that would bring recommendations to the 224th General Assembly in 2020.
After numerous amendments (and amendments to the amendments), the motion passed as amended thus implementing a six-person task force with the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, the Advocacy Committee on Women’s Concerns and the Board of Pensions to advise the task force with voice, but not vote.
Recognizing that several subsequent motions addressed family leave, a commissioner moved to refer those motions to the task force. The motion was amended to remove item 6-20 from the list and the amended motion passed.
Brought to the assembly by the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns, item 6-20 called to require and expand family leave policy. Commending the Presbyterian Mission Agency for their practices, the resolution directs the other five agencies to improve their family leave policies and “strongly urge and recommend all synods, presbyteries, and congregations to create a family leave policy that each member congregation can adopt.” After multiple amendments that tweaked the number of paid weeks of leave from a minimum of six weeks to a minimum of 12 weeks and added the sentence:“To direct the Presbyterian Mission Agency to forward the details of its Family Leave Policies and other pertinent information to the Synods, Presbyteries, and Congregations in order to facilitate and expedite the creation of fair and equitable family leave policies” the motion passed 396-85.
These actions of the 223rd General Assembly ensure that family leave policy will be on the docket in Baltimore in 2020.