Many congregations will not able to handle it.

Another gleaning from the Followup Conference on the Economic Sustainability of Ministry ......

There are significant new regulations coming about the hiring and compensation of employees that may well be beyond the ability of smaller UU congregations to handle.

One area of new regulation is the use of overtime. In order to declare an employee exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the position must meet certain requirements. Those requirements are being tightened, both in terms of overall salary and job definition. The practice of treating some church staff as exempt or salaried employees, paid a certain amount regardless of the number of hours they worked, will be harder to do within the law.

It's all fiendishly complicated, of course, and that is the point of this story. All but the largest of our congregations do not have professional Human Resources personnel on their staff. Richard Nugent of the Office of Church Staff Finances thinks that many of our congregation are not in compliance with labor law already. And in our smallest congregations, these matters are handled by part-term administrative staffs, supervised by volunteer treasurers.

The economic sustainability of our ministries (in the broadest sense) depends on the infrastructure to collect revenue and to legally employ people in an increasingly regulated labor market. Our polity as a religious movement has distributed that infrastructure down to our smallest operating units -- the local congregation.

I don't think that that arrangement is going to work much longer.


  1. This looks like a potential market for selling HR services to congregations. And a quick Google search shows there are companies set up for employers to outsource HR stuff.

  2. We have compensation consultants available to congregations. No charge. My husband is one of the people who serve in that role. I would suggest contacting the UUA and requesting one if you are concerned about your congregations compliance. We have the resources in place.

  3. I think it's a good thing that employers are being forced to compensate employees fairly. Take the example of a person making $30,000 a year. At 40 hours a week that equates to $15/hour. At 60 hours that equates to $10. Any more hours than that and they aren't making minimum wage. I realize that many congregations are already struggling financially, and that this may impose an additional obligation that will difficult to meet, but doesn't mean it's not the right and ethical thing to do.


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