Workplace Chaplaincy Mission UK recommend that all Chaplaincy teams adopt good practices including having appropriate policies in place.

We have Specimen Policies available for you to adapt to meet your own requirements. These are available to WCM UK network members and can be requested by sending an email to Revd Dick Johnson.
Policies which your team may consider having in place include:

Health & Safety Policy
Privacy Policy
Safeguarding Policy
Volunteer Policy

On the subject of Safeguarding, you may find the article below helpful:

An Introduction to Safeguarding & Commissioning

By Dick Johnson, WCM UK Moderator July 2023

It is essential for anyone involved with Workplace Chaplaincy that an effective policy on matters to do with Safeguarding is developed and followed locally. If you are part of a team it should have a simple policy which covers two key areas:

  • Safer recruitment of chaplains
  • Keeping safe both chaplains, and those they meet when they visit.

Many volunteer chaplains will have other roles in their own churches, for which they will have had to have undertaken safeguarding training. If you are not part of a wider ecumenical team of chaplains this would be an ideal way of making sure you are safe to be active as a chaplain. This will include safer recruitment as part of the ministry of your church in its community.  You will have some accreditation for what you do, and should have a clear path for reporting safeguarding concerns you come across. Talk to your safeguarding officer and minister in your church.

When it comes to teams, drawn from different churches and denominations, some coordination is required. Small teams might still rely on the home churches of each chaplain to provide the framework for recruitment, accreditation and safeguarding training. But as your team grows, to ensure consistency, the team needs to adopt its own policy and training.

This is easiest where teams are set up as a project, or as a charity of some sort, with a management committee or trustees and a team leader. Someone, suitably trained, needs to be designated as the Safeguarding Officer. The policy should include a section on how you recruit and accept volunteers into the team.

In this respect it is important to note that most chaplaincy roles do not qualify for enhanced DBS checks, because they are not routinely placing someone in the company of children or vulnerable adults. The exception to this is where a particular role as a chaplain is with a business or institution where there are those under the age of 18, or vulnerable adults. A vulnerable adult is anyone who, because of their long-term health, age or disabilities – mental or physical – are designated as vulnerable. It is not someone who has experienced something which makes them temporarily vulnerable, such as a bereavement. If someone’s role does not qualify for an enhanced check they cannot be checked ‘just in case’. That would be against the law.

Because workplace chaplains to not qualify for such checks it is important other ways are adopted to make their recruitment as safe as possible.  These include taking up references, providing a letter of appointment and a very clear statement of what their assignment is. It is good practice to only accept as volunteers someone who is in good standing with, and supported by, the church they are a part of. One of the references should be from someone in leadership in their church.

Commissioning of chaplains, which is good practice for other reasons, can also be part of a safer recruitment approach. This is a brief ceremony, undertaken within the regular worship service of the church a chaplain is part of, where the congregation undertakes to support and pray for the chaplain in their ministry. It is the congregation which commissions them, which emphasises that the chaplain, and the team they are part of, is not alone in what they do. They go with the backing, and authority, of the whole family of the church.

The second area that needs attention is how we keep everyone safe whilst chaplaincy is going on.  This applies to the chaplains themselves, and those they visit and talk to.  This is a matter of both training and procedure.

For chaplains it should be part of their initial training to cover staying safe as a chaplain, and this should be repeated on a regular basis – ideally annually.   This includes guarding against getting themselves into a situation where someone could falsely accuse them of a safeguarding breech. Chaplains should avoid being alone with individuals in a non-public space. This might be included in a separate ‘lone working’ policy, but can also be part of a safeguarding policy.

Such training should also cover confidentiality and its limits. Chaplaincy rightly stresses that things said to a chaplain are confidential. To protect themselves from promising to keep secret something that needs to be reported, there are always two exceptions. Firstly if anything illegal is disclosed. Secondly where someone maybe in potential danger. A chaplain needs to be trained how to spot these moments, and how to handle them. That they happen very rarely, if at all, in most peoples’ experience, is not a reason not to make sure this training is given and regularly repeated.

Along with this needs to be a clear procedure for reporting such ‘disclosures’. This might be set out in the policy as a flowchart. Safeguarding contacts within the team need to be identified and trained, something their own home church can usually help with.  Part of the policy, and training, can be set out in a, ‘What to do if . .’ procedure, for when someone does disclose something that needs to be passed on.

On top of specific safeguarding training in these procedures and spotting safeguarding issues, other risks need to be taken into account. This would come under ‘Health and Safety’, and is especially important if the sites being visited are not public spaces, and include dangerous activity. Good practice would include a risk assessment for each category of workplace, identifying risks, and how to avoid them. Again, some simple training and regular review is needed. This should be in addition to any procedure a company has in its particular environment. Chaplains visiting factories, for example, should always comply with the in-house Health and Safety policy, and undertake an induction.

One aspect of any policy is that it is reviewed and revised regularly.  WCM UK does not undertake chaplaincy itself and therefore does not have any policies on chaplaincy, but can signpost to teams that do. One example are the policies of Faith at Work in Worcestershire, a county wide team with about 25 volunteer chaplains.  These will give you more detail to help you shape your own policies and practices. But every situation is different, and needs its own approach.

If you would like help in developing something appropriate for our situation do get in touch. We would be happy to discuss this with you.

Dick Johnson
Development Officer at Faith at Work in Worcestershire

email to Revd Dick Johnson,
07946 655450