Tenth anniversary of guidelines for fair compensation.
Traditionally, Mero says, many churches and synagogues assumed that people working for religious organizations were drawn by non-financial rewards. That has changed. “Economic realities now require that churches must give the financial aspects of employment a higher priority,” Mero says.
There was also a time, he says, when congregations were focused on arranging adequate compensation and benefits only for the minister. Today, he says, “it is widely accepted that all staff that work half time or more are entitled to adequate salaries and some employer-paid benefits.”
Other changes since 1995:
Providing employer-paid health insurance is still the toughest challenge for most congregations. “This is true across the U.S. religious landscape,” Mero says. “Many denominations scramble to find carriers to insure their congregational staff, or they create self-funded health plans.”
The UUA compensation recommendations cover ministers, religious educators, choir directors, organists, business administrators, office personnel, membership and volunteer coordinators, and custodians. The salary recommendations are developed by the UUA’s Compensation, Benefits, and Pension Committee and approved by the UUA Board of Trustees. The committee is composed primarily of laypersons with expertise in human resources, retirement plans, and personal financial management. Robert Messing is the chair.
Congregations are encouraged to aim for the midpoint of each pay range rather than the minimum. “The midpoint represents where a competently performing staff member would be after mastering the requirements of the position,” says Mero. “While the minimum may be a suitable starting salary for a qualified new employee, it is expected that most staff will grow toward the midpoint of their range within five years.
“It has been found that most UU religious societies see the wisdom of compensation patterns that are considered fair by both the congregation and its employees,” says Mero. “Over time, such patterns are conducive to better recruitment and retention practices, and to higher staff performance and congregational appreciation.”
Like this on Facebook
Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.