Wednesday, December 6, 2000

A Template For A Personnel Manual In A Presbyterian Church

Mustard Seed Books


Welcome! As an employee of Insert Name of Church, you are an important member of a team effort. We hope that you will find your position with Insert Name of Church rewarding, challenging, and productive.
Because our success depends upon the dedication of our employees, we are highly selective in choosing new members of our team. We look to you and the other employees to contribute to the success of Insert Name of Church.
This employee handbook is intended to explain the terms and conditions of employment of all employees. Written employment contracts between Insert Name of Church and some individuals may supersede some of the provisions of this handbook.

In this section the church will introduce the employee to the Presbyterian Church, USA, and to the particular congregation.  This section will need to be personalized for a particular church.
Insert Name of Church is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church, USA.  The constitution of our denomination is a two-volume document made up of the Book of Confessions (what we believe) and the Book of Order (how we operate).  A local congregation will have its own policies and procedures or administrative manuals, such as this employee handbook for our congregation. 
The local governing body is the Session.  Our session is made up of Insert Number elders elected by the congregation to serve in three year terms. 
The regional governing body is the Presbytery.  We are part of the Insert Name Presbytery, which has its offices at Insert Location and telephone number.
          The mission statement of the Insert Name of Church is… (at this point it is helpful to inset the mission statement of the congregation, as the staff members will have an important role in maintaining and accomplishing this mission).


This manual outlines the personnel policies as well as compensation and benefits of Insert Name of Church, hereinafter called the Church. Each employee will be responsible for accessing this Personnel Policy Manual via the Insert Name of Church web site (www.insert web address here .com) and will be asked to sign a receipt for each release.  Note:  Each release should have a distinctive name, such as Personnel Manual 1.0 or 2.0, or Personnel Manual January 1 2009.

Personnel Handbooks and Church Policies are not contracts, and no statement contained in this Personnel Policy Manual is intended to create a contract of employment. The Church reserves the right to, at any time, amend, modify, or eliminate any of the policies in this Personnel Policy Manual, which shall be reviewed at least annually. Questions concerning the interpretation of the content of this Personnel Policy Manual are to be directed to the supervisor or, secondarily, to the Pastor/Head of Staff. (The names of the incumbents of positions referenced in this Personnel Policy Manual are posted in the Church office.)  Note:  It will be very helpful for you to state that this document does not constitute a contract of employment.

The Church believes that an employee is called by God to his/her work in the Church and is given gifts by God to fulfill this call. The Church is committed to providing the best possible climate for professional development and for the achievement of mutually agreed goals, where communications are open and where problems can be discussed and resolved in a mutually respectfully manner. Each employee will be treated as a contributing member of the team. In turn, employees are expected to execute their positions in a professional manner and to conduct themselves in ways which will advance the mission of the Church.

Employment at Insert Name of Church is with the mutual consent of the
employee and the Church. Employees should be interested in and in basic harmony with the mission, purposes, and ministries of the Church. To this end, candidates for employment will be asked to submit a written statement of faith prior to hire.
Decision time!!
Choice A:  The decision to hire Church members as employees will be made by the Personnel Committee on a case-by-case basis.  The decision to have a direct-report relationship between family members will be made by the session.
Choice B:  It is against Session’s policies to hire Church members or family relatives as employees of the Church. 
Note:  Some congregations, especially smaller ones, prefer to hire from within the membership.  This will raise problems in smaller and larger membership congregations.  How do you hire one and not another church member?  How do you fire or discipline a church member?

Employment of minors is restricted by terms and provisions of State law.

Full-time employees are expected to consider the Church as the primary employer.  Other employment is acceptable if it does not detract from execution of the position description, does not present a conflict of interests or decreases performance in your duties as an employee of the Church. 

The Church is committed to the full utilization of human resources and to a policy of equal employment opportunity. The Church maintains a policy of equal employment opportunity and does not discriminate on the basis of race; color; sex; pregnancy or any illness arising out of and occurring during the course of pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions; national origin; disability; ancestry; or age. Positions not filled by promotion of current employees will be advertised. All applicants will be considered for employment in compliance with State and Federal law.

Note:  Churches are faith based organizations and can be discerning about hiring only people of faith.  You can hire only Christians for all staff positions.  Some churches might have a category, such as “support staff” who do not need to be filled by people of faith.  The best approach is for you to consider your past experiences and how each has been helpful or unhelpful.  A janitor who comes in when the office is closed might not need to demonstrate a belief in the church’s faith.  However, a janitor who works closely with other staff and volunteers might best be a person of faith.

Employment in the Church is at will. Nothing in this Personnel Policy Manual, an employment application, or an offer letter is a contract of employment. This provision does not apply to Ministers of the Word and Sacrament, who are accountable to the Presbytery of Insert Name.  Note:  This may need to be reviewed to be consistent with state and local laws.

The ordained staff employed by the Church serves with the Pastor/Head of Staff's direction although not under his/her authority. Authority in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is lodged in ordered groups and is not given to one individual. The Pastor/Head of Staff, therefore, counsels with the Church session in exercising leadership to the other members of the Church staff—both pastoral employees who are under the authority of the Presbytery and other staff members who are employed by and are responsible to the session. In order to avoid contradictions in the implementation of policy, the session will normally exercise its authority through the Pastor/Head of Staff.

Certain employees may be assigned to a management role, as outlined in his/her position description. In such instances, an employee is responsible to his/her supervisor; and the supervisor is responsible to the session through the Pastor/Head of Staff.

Each employee of the Church shall be classified in three ways:  as exempt or non-exempt, as full-time or part-time, and in terms of employment category.

The policies and benefits applicable to an employee of the Church are dependent on the employee's classifications. Where a policy and/or benefit do not apply to all employees, that distinction is noted. Unless such a distinction is noted, the term employee shall refer to every employment classification. Independent contractors as well as people who are hired and paid by a third party are not employees of the Church.  Note:  Congregations with preschools, schools, academies, day cares and after school program may want to include them in the church personnel handbook, or make a statement here, such as “Staff members of the preschool are covered by a different employee handbook.”

Exempt employees are employees who are exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (Section V., Paragraph B.).
Employees whose jobs are governed by the FLSA are either "exempt" or "nonexempt." Nonexempt employees are entitled to overtime pay. Exempt employees are not. Most employees covered by the FLSA are nonexempt. Some are not.
For most employees, however, whether they are exempt or nonexempt depends on (a) how much they are paid, (b) how they are paid, and (c) what kind of work they do. The requirements are outlined in the FLSA Regulations (promulgated by the U.S. Department of Labor). Most employees must meet all three "tests" to be exempt.
Salary level test. Employees who are paid less than $23,600 per year ($455 per week) are nonexempt.  
Salary basis test. Generally, an employee is paid on a salary basis if s/he has a "guaranteed minimum" amount of money s/he can count on receiving for any work week in which s/he performs "any" work.
The duties tests. An employee who meets the salary level tests and also the salary basis tests is exempt only if s/he also performs exempt job duties. These FLSA exemptions are limited to employees who perform relatively high-level work. Whether the duties of a particular job qualify as exempt depends on what they are. Job titles or position descriptions are of limited usefulness in this determination. (A secretary is still a secretary even if called an "administrative assistant," and the chief executive officer is still the CEO even if called a janitor.)
There are three typical categories of exempt job duties, called "executive," "professional," and "administrative."
Exempt executive job duties.  Job duties are exempt executive job duties if the employee
  1. regularly supervises two or more other employees, and also
  2. has management as the primary duty of the position, and also,
  3. has some genuine input into the job status of other employees (such as hiring, firing, promotions, or assignments).
Exempt professional job duties.  The job duties of the traditional "learned professions" are exempt. These include lawyers, doctors, dentists, teachers, architects, clergy. Also included are registered nurses (but not LPNs), accountants (but not bookkeepers) and other employees who perform work requiring "advanced knowledge" similar to that historically associated with the traditional learned professions.
Exempt Administrative job duties.  The most elusive and imprecise of the definitions of exempt job duties is for exempt "administrative" job duties. The Regulatory definition provides that exempt administrative job duties are
1.    office or nonmanual work, which is
2.    directly related to management or general business operations of the employer or the employer's customers, and
3.    a primary component of which involves the exercise of independent judgment and discretion about matters of significance.

Full-time employees are employees who regularly work 30 hours or more per week.
Part-time employees are employees who regularly work fewer than 30 hours per

Each employee of the Church will fall into one of the following categories. 
1.    Pastoral Staff  Those who are ordained and are under the authority of the Presbytery. 
2.    Program Staff  Those who are responsible for the programs and ministries of the church. 
3.    Support Staff.  Those who are employed as custodians, janitors and maintenance are not covered under the medical and pension programs. 
4.    Preschool/Day Care/After School Staff.  Those working in the academic ministry of the Church.

Note:  You can create as many categories as needed, but these are the traditional ones for churches.  Smaller staffs may simply have two – ordained and non-ordained.  The definition of these categories will be of value in determining how to apply your policies.  Who will receive insurance coverage?  Who will receive other benefits?  Remember to treat everyone within a category equally to others within that same category.

The first three months of a nonexempt employee’s employment are a provisional or trial period, giving the employee and the Church an opportunity to evaluate interest and qualifications for the position under actual working conditions. After that time, an informal performance review with the employee will be conducted by the supervisor and the Pastor/Head of Staff and reported in written form to the Personnel Committee. Satisfactory completion of the provisional or trial period is not a guarantee of continued employment.

General. Employees are expected to observe and follow the Church’s policies and to maintain proper standards of conduct, courtesy, character, and
professionalism at all times.
Working with Other Employees. Employees are expected to work as a team, respecting other employees and executing to their individual position descriptions, working with the immediate supervisor and under the general direction and guidance of the Pastor/Head of Staff.
Working with Members of the Church. Employees are expected to work effectively with Church members and to support them in advancing the mission of the Church.
Discussions with Others. Employees will discuss suggestions, opportunities, concerns, and problems with their immediate supervisor or, alternately, with the Chair of the Personnel Committee or through the Grievance Process.
Confidentiality. Employees of the Church may become aware of confidential and/or sensitive information and are to not discuss such information with anyone including but not limited to Church members, friends, employees, family members, or the general public. Such information shall be shared with other Church employees on a need-to-know basis only. Mailing lists and directory information of the Church are not to be disclosed to anyone without pre-approval from the session.
Appearance. Employee attire and personal grooming and hygiene will be consistent with that generally expected of a Christian church and the culture of the community in which we serve.
Good Housekeeping. Employees are expected to keep their place of work organized and their materials in good order. Anything that needs repair or replacement should be reported to the Business Administrator.
Health and Safety. Employees are expected to understand safe procedures for executing to their position descriptions. Further, they are expected to recognize that safety is everyone’s responsibility and therefore to know the locations, contents, and use of first-aid and fire-fighting equipment. They are to notify their immediate supervisor and then the Pastor/Head of Staff of any emergency situation including any on-the-job injury or illness. Equipment is to be used, adjusted, or repaired by only trained and qualified employees. Care should be exercised when lifting or pushing heavy objects. Accidents are to be self-reported using the Accident/Incident Report. The report is to be forwarded to the Business Administrator, who will share the information, as is appropriate, the state’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the Church’s insurance provider.
No-Smoking Policy. No smoking is permitted on Church premises except in private cars.
Violence in the Workplace. The Church recognizes that workplace violence is a growing concern among employers and employees across the country. The Church is committed to providing a safe, violence-free workplace and strictly prohibits employees, Church members, volunteers, visitors, and anyone else on Church premises or engaging in a Church-related activity from behaving in a violent or threatening manner. A State and Federal criminal background check yielding a “clean” record is a prerequisite to hiring.
Drug-Free Workplace. It is the intent of the Church to maintain a workplace that is free of drugs and to discourage drug and alcohol abuse by its employees. Substance abuse is incompatible with the health, safety, efficiency, and success of the Church’s employees. A drug screening yielding a “negative” result is a prerequisite to hiring.
Sexual Misconduct. Employees are to maintain the integrity of the employment and professional relationship at all times. Sexual misconduct is a violation not only of this relationship but also of the principles set forth in the Scriptures. Sexual misconduct may apply to children, youth, or vulnerable adults; may include fellow employees, Church members, volunteers, visitors, or other members of the public; and is never tolerated.

Employees are expected to be at work, on time, every day, as scheduled. When it is necessary to be absent from work, the employee is to notify his/her supervisor, in advance if possible. During any period of absence, the employee is to call his/her supervisor daily or as frequently as is mutually agreed.

If an employee is unable to report to work at the scheduled start time due to unforeseen circumstances (including weather conditions which make travel unsafe) or must leave work early due to unforeseen circumstances (including deteriorating weather conditions which make safe travel questionable), the employee must promptly notify the Church Secretary (by phone, by voice mail, or in person), his/her supervisor, or the Pastor/Head of Staff. Except in extraordinary circumstances, at least one hour’s notice is required. Nonexempt employees may, with pre-approval, work additional hours within a single workweek.

It is the employee’s responsibility to maintain an acceptable attendance record. Excessive tardiness, absenteeism, or failure to call in will subject the employee to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. For purposes of this attendance policy, excessive tardiness is defined as four incidences of unexcused tardiness during any 180-day rolling period.

Excessive absenteeism is defined as three unexcused absences during any 180-day rolling period. Three consecutive days of unexcused absences will be grounds for termination of employment.

Excessive failures to call in is defined as three unexcused failures to call in during any 180-day rolling period. Three consecutive failures to call in shall be considered a voluntary abandonment of employment.

An employee’s supervisor will excuse tardiness, absenteeism, or failure to call in only when the tardiness, absenteeism, or failure to call in is due to reasons beyond the control of and without the fault of the employee.

Employees are to provide updated information to the Church Administrator, within one week of the change, as follows:
1.    Changes to name,
2.    home address,
3.    marital status,
4.    number of dependents,
5.    beneficiaries,
6.    home phone number,
7.     cell phone number,
8.    And emergency contact information.

Personnel files are securely maintained in the Church office by the Pastor/Head of Staff and are available, upon request, to the Chair of the Personnel Committee only.  An employee may request access to his/her personnel file, once a year, upon request to the Chair of the Personnel Committee.

Employees may not solicit for purchases or contributions while on Church property or representing the Church at other locations. The only exception to this rule is to participate in soliciting funds for the Church and its Session-approved special offerings.

Employees may post in the Church information or notices about nonprofits which do not relate to Church business only with pre-approval from the Pastor/Head of Staff.

Employees and others may post in the Church information or notices about for-profit activities only with pre-approval from the session.

An employee will be paid for the work assigned by the Church.  From time to time, an employee may wish to participate in a mission program as a volunteer.  This is permitted and welcomed, however the volunteer work must not be the work for which the employee is usually paid.  For example, a secretary cannot volunteer as one of the non-paid office volunteers, but a secretary can volunteer to work with youth.  A youth director cannot volunteer to work in the church youth programs, but can volunteer to work as an office volunteer. 

Employees who wish to volunteer assistance to non-work-related activities for staff members must do so on their personal time.

Employees who volunteer must do so on their own volition.  Employees who are asked by members of the congregation to volunteer for church programs without pay must refer that request to the Pastor/Head of Staff, who in turn must have approval from the Session before granting permission to the employee to volunteer without pay.

An employee’s personal use of Church equipment, including but not limited to the copier, the postage machine, and the fax, must be pre-approved by the Business Administrator.  The employee will reimburse the Church for the use of this equipment at a rate determined by the Business Administrator.

Although occasional use of the Church telephone for a personal need may be necessary, routine personal calls, incoming and outgoing, are discouraged.

No property may be removed from the premises without proper authorization.

Lost, broken, or damaged equipment is to be immediately reported to the Business Administrator.

An employee’s use of Church telecommunications, PCs, e-mail systems, and Internet access constitutes the employee’s agreement to abide by the Church’s policies governing such systems. All systems are to be used primarily for business purposes; i.e., any use for personal purposes is generally acceptable if done in a professional manner that does not interfere with business use.

All equipment, hardware, software, electronic files, and e-mail messages (whether composed, sent, or received by the employee) are the property of the Church.  Employees should be aware that messages are not private and that deleted files may be retrieved and read by the Church. The Church reserves the right to retrieve, monitor, and review any messages in the Church’s communication system and may disclose such messages for any purpose without permission of or notice to the employee. Passwords and User IDs must be reported to the Business Administrator, who is responsible for keeping a record of all such information in a secured place that is accessible by the Business Administrator, Pastor/Head of Staff, and Clerk of Session.

Action designed to improve performance may be imposed when an employee’s actions fail to meet the requirements of this Personnel Policy Manual or the expectations of the Session. 

This action may result from but is not necessarily limited to the following:
1.     Failure to meet any of the General Standards of Conduct.
2.    Violation of any other Terms and Conditions of Employment.
3.    Violation of any policy or health and safety rule of the Church.
4.    Insubordination.
5.    Working overtime without approval.Unacceptable performance according to requirements outlined in the position description or of assigned work.

Performance Improvement Action shall be consistent with the nature and seriousness of the offense or the performance issue, taking into account the health and safety of other employees, the employee’s past disciplinary history, and any mitigating circumstances. It may consist of a verbal warning, a written warning, a final written warning, suspension without pay, a termination for cause, or other appropriate measures.

To allow for dialogue, expectations setting, and opportunity for improvement, verbal and written warnings will typically be issued in a meeting setting; and, following the meeting, the employee will have one day to respond to the Performance Improvement Action, if desired, in writing.

The employee or the Church may terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason, with or without notice, except for employees governed by a Terms of Call or by an employment contract.

An employee who is terminated for cause may be granted two weeks’ notice, or two weeks’ pay in lieu of notice, at the option of the Pastor/Head of Staff in consultation with the Personnel Committee.

An employee who decides to resign (makes a decision to terminate employment with the Church) should provide at least two weeks' written notice. Resigning employees will be asked to complete a brief exit interview with a member of the Personnel Committee prior to leaving. Outcomes of this interview will not be retained in the employee’s personnel file.

Upon termination or resignation, an employee must return this Personnel Policy Manual, keys, books and other resources, PC media, and other Church property to the Pastor/Head of Staff or, alternately, to the Chair of the Personnel Committee or Clerk of Session.


Nonexempt employees are to report actual hours worked each week. Hours worked are not to exceed, on average, the hours as outlined in the position description. A time sheet is to be completed, signed by the supervisor, and turned in to the Business Administrator weekly.

Overtime consists of hours worked by a nonexempt employee in excess of 40 hours per week. Overtime is to be incurred only when necessary and must be preapproved by the Pastor/Head of Staff. Overtime hours are to be recorded in increments of not less than one-quarter hour. Under State law, employees may not receive compensatory time off in lieu of overtime. However, nonexempt employees may make up time missed during a single workweek (by, for example, coming in early, staying late, or working through lunch) with pre-approval of the supervisor or of the Pastor/Head of Staff.

Exempt employees are not eligible to receive compensation for overtime.

Wages and salaries for all positions are reviewed annually by the Personnel

The Church will grant a Cost of Living Adjustment each January to all church employees who have been employed by the church for more than 6 consecutive months.  The Cost of Living Adjustment will be determined by the annual recommendation of the Committee on Ministry of the Presbytery of Insert Name. If the budget is unable to sustain a full Cost of Living Adjustment equally for all staff members, then a reduced amount, given equally as a percentage of salary or wages, will be given to all staff members who have been employed for more than 12 consecutive months.

The amount for an increase based on merit will be above and beyond the Cost of Living Adjustment, and will be based on the the documented progress toward established ministry and personal growth objectives.

All increases will be subject to the recommendation of the Personnel Committee, the approval of the Budget Committee, and the ratification of the Session.  Any change in compensation for installed pastoral employees must be approved also by the congregation.

C.  Bonuses
A bonus will be given to all full-time employees of the Church who have been employed for more than 24 consecutive months prior to December 1st of that year.  All bonuses will be given on the last work day prior to Christmas Eve as a check separate from the pay check, with a letter of thanks from the Chair of Personnel.

This bonus will be 25% of the usual or average weekly pre-withholding salary.  It will be no greater than $500 and no less than $100.

Part-time employees of the Church who have been employed for more than 24 consecutive months prior to December 1st of that year will be given $50 bonuses.

Employees are expected to use their vacation entitlement, exercising good judgment in accommodating to seasonal workflow and to the schedules of other employees.

Vacations are based on the calendar year, not the hire date. 

Vacation requests shall be presented to the Pastor and Personnel Committee for approval.

Vacation should be scheduled with concern for seasonal programming.  Vacation Bible School Week, Advent, Holy Week and other times with heavy programming will not usually be approved for vacation requests.

Vacation days unused by December 31 may be carried over to the next year.  Each year the normal vacation for that year shall be used prior to use of any carryover vacation from a previous year. The unused vacation from a previous year not taken in the following year will not be carried into the second year.

The vacation program will be administered as follows for full-time staff:

  • Two (2) weeks of vacation shall be due the regular full time employee after one (1) year employment.

  • Three (3) weeks of vacation shall be due the regular full time employee after five (5) years’ employment.

  • Four (4) weeks of vacation shall be due the regular full time employee after ten (10) years’ employment.

Unused vacation days will be converted to appropriate cash only at the time of voluntary resignation or retirement. Unused vacation days shall be pro-rated upon retirement or resignation, e.g., a termination date of May 1, entitles the regular full time employee to 4/12 of earned vacation.

The vacation program will be administered as follows for part-time staff:
  • One (1) week of vacation shall be due to the Program or Support regular part time employee after one (1) year of employment.
  • Two (2) weeks of vacation shall be due the Program or Support regular part time employee after five (5) years of employment.
  • Three (3) weeks of vacation shall be due the Program or Support regular part time employee after ten (10) years of employment.

The vacation program will be administered as follows for ordained staff:  Thirty days per year, effective the first day of employment in the congregation. 

Full-time employees are entitled to the following days off with pay:
  1.  New Year's Day
  2. The Monday and Tuesday following Easter Sunday
  3. Memorial Day
  4. July 4
  5. Labor Day
  6. Thanksgiving Day and the day following
  7. December 26-31, not including Sunday within that period.

If one of the holidays falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the Pastor/Head of Staff will determine whether the holiday will be observed on the day immediately before or immediately after the holiday. If an employee’s duties require that he/she work on a holiday, the employee will be granted an alternative day off with pay. Holiday time will not count as hours worked for purposes of overtime calculation for nonexempt employees.

A full-time employee must work his/her scheduled workday before and after the holiday in order to be paid for the holiday unless the employee is absent with permission.

If a holiday falls when a full-time employee is not regularly scheduled, the employee will not receive another day off. If a holiday falls during a full-time employee’s approved vacation period, the employee will receive holiday pay and will not be charged for a vacation day on the day the holiday is observed.

Part-time employees normally scheduled to work on a holiday will be expected to reschedule their time to work at another workday, and will not receive additional compensation.

Full-time employees who have completed their introductory period are eligible for up to 80 hours of paid sick time each year.

As sick time cannot be accumulated from year to year, additional sick time will be subtracted from an employee’s unused vacation time in the current year without loss of pay. In the event additional sick time exceeds an employee’s eligible vacation time, the employee will not receive compensation for any excess sick time.

Requests for sick time must be given to the Pastor/Head of Staff. Employees are required to call in prior to the start of their workday whenever they will be absent due to illness. The Church reserves the right to require medical documentation of any absence for illness of three days or longer.

Part-time employees are not eligible for sick time.

By mutual consent of the employee and the Pastor/Head of Staff, a full-time employee’s work schedule may be modified, during that week, to accommodate medical or personal appointments. For part-time employees, the work schedule may be modified, during that week, to accommodate medical or personal appointments, holidays, and sick time.

Because the schedules and ministries of the church are often varied (such as with funerals), some individuals may be required to work outside of their normal schedule.  In such cases, an equal amount of time off is given later to balance the work load.  This time must be taken within seven days, and scheduled with the approval of the Pastor/Head of Staff.

Exempt professional employees and nonexempt employees summoned for jury duty will be paid the difference between their normal rate of pay and jury duty pay for service of up to two calendar weeks. Employees must provide the Church with a copy of the court payment record in order to be compensated.

The Church encourages all staff members to be responsible citizens.  Early voting provides ample opportunity for staff members to participate in an election.  In cases in which a staff member is required to work during polling periods (for both early voting and the normal election day), time off, with pay, will be granted to the staff member who wishes to vote.

Bereavement Leave. At the discretion of the Pastor/Head of Staff, employees may receive a paid leave of up to three days during their scheduled work time for the death of an immediate family member, which shall include spouse, parent, brother, sister, child, grandparent, parent-in-law, and brother- and sister-in-law. At the discretion of the Pastor/Head of Staff, employees may receive a paid leave of one day to attend the funeral of other relatives or of friends.
Family Medical Leave. The Church is not covered by the Family Medical Leave Act, but voluntarily applies this similar policy.  Eligible regular full time employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave with continued benefits during a 12 month period for the birth of a child, care of a newborn, placement for adoption, or foster care, care for a spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition or for the employee’s own serious health condition. To be eligible the regular full time employee should have worked for the Church  at least 12 months and at least 1500 hours during the immediate preceding 12 months. If leave is requested, the Pastor shall require medical certification from the appropriate physician. “Serious health condition” covers inpatient care and continuing treatment by a health care provider.
Military Leave. Employees will be granted unpaid leave for uniformed service in
accordance with applicable State and Federal law.
Education/Study Leave. A paid leave of absence for personal and professional growth may be provided to employees when the Session deems that further training is required or desired by the church’s needs.  Pastors are required by the Presbytery and the Church to participate in continuing education programs.

Pastors will be provided with a 14 day Continuing Education Leave per year, and a budget of no less than the minimum required by the Presbytery of Insert Name.

For non-ordained staff members, when the Church requires training the cost of the continuing education event will be paid by the Church, including registration, travel, and hotel. 

Terminated employees will not be paid for unused education/study leave.

Sabbatical. A sabbatical is intended to enable a pastor/educator to be renewed through the vital pursuit of extended continuing education, extended time spent in spiritual formation, and fresh mentoring by respected teachers. A full-time pastor or a full-time Certified Christian Educator shall be eligible for a paid sabbatical after five years of service to the Church. Such sabbatical, which requires approval of the session, shall be of not more than three months, to be taken during the summer and with coverage by other pastors/ministry leaders on staff.

Time for a Decision:
Choice A:
  Full-time employees are eligible to participate, on a 50/50 co-pay basis, in health insurance coverage provided by the Affiliated Benefits Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Health insurance terms and conditions, including the co-pay amount required, are subject to change at the sole discretion of the Church.
Choice B:  Full-time employees who are eligible under the policies of this Church and the Board of Pensions are required to participate in the Traditional Benefits Program of the Board of Pensions, with the Church paying 100% of the dues.

Pastoral employees entitled to benefits under the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shall have those premiums fully paid by the Church.

If the church wishes to provide a Flexible Spending Account, details should be included here.

The Church requires all eligible employees who participate in the Board of Pensions be enrolled in the pension program on the third year’s anniversary of employment.  Pastors must be enrolled immediately.  If an employee elects to establish an individual retirement account (IRA) or make other income deferrals as provided by law, the Business Administrator will administer such plans.

Pastors are considered self-employed for Social Security purposes.  The Church will provide the employee’s share of this tax, but it will also be considered taxable income and reported as such. 

All other employees are also covered by Social Security, but the employee’s share of the tax that is withheld from pay is not considered taxable income.

Employees are covered by the state’s Workers’ Compensation laws.

Any incident resulting in an employee illness or injury is to be immediately reported to the Business Administrator. 

Employees of the Church are not covered under unemployment insurance.

Pastoral employees and other employees with defined expense accounts will be reimbursed for approved professional and business-related expenses up to the amount allowed by Terms of Call, employment contract, or other agreement.
Employees will submit to the Business Administrator accurate and receipted expense reports, which shall include date, amount, and business nature of each expense, within 60 days of expenses paid or incurred except that expenses incurred near year end must be submitted prior to December 31. Signed vouchers are required for allowances paid in advance of expenditures and for reimbursements.

The Church will reimburse reasonable and necessary expenses such as but not limited to the following:
  • Professional travel and other expenses (e.g., mileage per the rate specified by the IRS; tolls; coach-class air fares, bus fares, and train fares; lodging; up to $7 per meal; parking; taxi fares; and telephone costs)
  • Education expenses, with session approval (e.g., travel, lodging, fees for courses, and books and other required materials)
  • Professional entertainment expenses, limited to business expenses for Church groups or councils and for related community activities (e.g., meals, hospitality, and materials)
  • Annual dues for membership in one community service club.

Approval by the session is required for expenditures not covered in the above list (which has previously been approved by session). 

The Church shall retain expense and reimbursement records for the statutory period of three years.


Each employee will, with his/her supervisor, develop ministry and personal growth objectives for the next 12 months and will receive a performance review against those objectives at least once each year.

The objectives setting and performance review cycle will typically be from September through August (the Church program year). Any wage and salary increases will typically be from January through December (the Church budget year).


Jesus taught us in Matthew’s Gospel, “if your brother or sister sins against you, go and tell this person his or her fault between the two of you alone. If your brother or sister hears you, you have gained. But if he or she will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he or she refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matt. 18:15-17)

Conflicts occur in all places, even within a church team.  It may be between the pastor and a staff member, between two pastors, or between two non-ordained staff members.  These are the steps, based on the teachings of Christ:
  1.  Go directly to the person.  Go alone.  Speak openly, calmly and clearly.
  2. If this does not resolve the conflict, take one or two with you.  These must be the Pastor/Head of Staff, the Chair of the Personnel Committee, the Clerk of Session, or your immediate supervisor, or a member of the Personnel Committee.  For the peace, unity and purity of the church, at this point no one else need be involved.  To avoid unhealthy triangulation, do not send these one or two to speak on your behalf, but follow the words of Christ and go with them to speak directly and openly with the person with whom you have the conflict.
  3. If this does not resolve the issue, and if the conflict is serious enough to warrant it, “tell it to the church.”  This does not mean the whole congregation, as this would lead to more conflict.  For us it means a two-step process.  First it is to go to the whole Personnel Committee, who will meet with both parties together.  If that does not resolve the issue, then both parties will go to the Session together.  The Personnel Committee and or the Session are engaged if only one of the two parties desire it.
  4. The Session is the governing body of the church.  At their discretion they may make a decision or they may call in an outside mediator.  Their decision should be considered final.


In keeping with the Book of Order and for the peace, unity and purity of the church, this sexual misconduct policy is adopted for the Church. In addition to this policy applying to the local congregation, pastoral staff members are subject to the Clergy Sexual Misconduct Policy of the Presbytery of Insert Name.
A. Definition of Sexual Misconduct
Sexual misconduct is the comprehensive term used in this policy to include sexual abuse of children or adults, rape or sexual assault, and sexual harassment. Sexual misconduct is an abuse of authority and power. It breaches Christian ethical principles by misusing a trust relationship to gain advantage over another for personal gratification in an abusive, exploitative, and unjust manner. Categories of sexual misconduct are described below.
1. Sexual abuse occurs whenever a person in a position of trust engages in a sexual act or sexual contact with another person to whom he or she owes a professional responsibility. Such abuse includes, but is not limited to, the following:
a) Sexual acts or sexual contact with a minor.
b) Sexual acts or sexual contact involving inducement, threat, coercion, force, violence, or intimidation of another person.
c) Sexual acts or contact involving a pastor with church members or church staff members to whom they are not married and with whom they have a professional relationship. Such relationships are not acceptable even when consensual, and regardless of whether pastoral care is involved. The inherent imbalance of power between ministers and lay people or staff undermines the validity of such consent.
d) Sexual acts or sexual contact with a person who is incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct or is physically incapable of declining such activity.
e) Sexual acts or sexual contact arising from the administration of a drug or intoxicant which substantially impairs the reasoning or judgment of another.
2. Child sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to, any contact or interaction between a child and an adult when the child is being used for the sexual stimulation of the adult or of a third person. The behavior may or may not involve touching and includes the display or use of sexually suggestive materials, objects, or pictures. Child sexual abuse between an adult and a child is always considered forced whether or not consented to by the child. Child sexual abuse is a crime in all states.
3. Rape or sexual assault is a crime in every state and should be reported to civil authorities and to the Pastor/Head of Staff and to the Clerk of Session of the Church
4. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexually offensive nature when any of the following circumstances prevail:
a) Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or their continued status in an institution.
b) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is the basis for employment decisions affecting that individual.
c) Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Sexual harassment can consist of a single intense or severe act or multiple persistent or pervasive acts.
Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to the following:
- sexually oriented jokes or humor;
- sexually demeaning comments;
- verbal suggestions of sexual involvement or sexual activity;
- questions or comments about one’s personal sexual behavior;
- unwelcome or inappropriate physical contact;
- graphic or degrading comments about an individual's physical appearance;
- express or implied sexual advances or propositions;
- display or use of sexually suggestive materials, objects or pictures;
- repeated requests for social engagements after an individual refuses.
Discussions about sexual ethics with church members, review of curriculum or programming material with staff members or committees, providing information about sexual health issues and other appropriate conversations are not sexual harassment but should always be approached with care and discernment.
B. Policy on Sexual Misconduct
1. Sexual misconduct is never permissible.
2. All volunteers shall read this statement regarding sexual misconduct. This statement will be made readily available for review.
3. The church shall from time to time offer classes, programs or instructional material for volunteers regarding sexual misconduct.
C.  Reporting Procedure
1. Do not treat any suspicion, report or accusation as frivolous.
2. Do not investigate and judge, but simply report.
3. Church members should report to the Pastor.
4. Church employees should report to the immediate supervisor, who then reports to the Pastor.
5. Law enforcement officials shall be notified immediately. Safety of the victim is paramount and may require the reporter to report to the policy before reporting to the Pastor or immediate supervisor.
6. The parents or guardians will be notified and informed.
7. The church liability insurance company shall be notified immediately.
8. The church will cooperate with law enforcement agencies.
9. The pastor will meet immediately with all pastors and appropriate staff members and with the Clerk of Session and Chair of Personnel Committee to keep them informed.

The purpose of the Personnel Committee is to support the mission and ministries of the Church in matters pertaining to human resources. This includes but is not limited to the development and interpretation of policies and processes contained in the Personnel Policy Manual and development and administration of position descriptions, compensation (in conjunction with the Budget Committee), benefits, performance reviews, and discipline and grievance processes.

The Personnel Committee shall be comprised of at least six members plus the Pastor/Head of Staff.  The Chair of the Finance will serve as ex officio member.
The Chair of the Personnel Committee shall be a member of the session.

To the extent possible, membership on the Committee shall be representative of the congregation. The Personnel Committee shall typically meet every other month.


Note: It is generally helpful for all staff in a church to see and have access to the job descriptions of others on their team.  These should not include compensation details.

To see an example of this template in use by a church, the Southminster Presbyterian Church in Ohio has posted their version online:

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