Compensation and Staffing News
UUA Office of Church Staff Finances Mission
Guided by the values of our faith,
we equip congregations for excellence as employers
and their staff for financial competence and well-being.
May 2020

In some email readers, you may need to click on continuation dots to read the entirety of each article.
Setting Salaries in Uncertain Times
Some of you have inquired about the 2020-2021 UUA Salary Recommendations , wondering if we plan to rescind, alter, or postpone their use, given the impacts of the pandemic. We're leaving them as is. A bit of background may help you understand why...

Each fall, we gather wage survey data to help us formulate our Salary Recommendations for the upcoming July-June year. By late November, we're able to share general information about how salaries will change. The annual updates to our recommendations are a reflection of changes in wages that occurred in the previous calendar year. So the charts that get posted in January aren't "forecasting" what we expect for the coming program year, but adjusting for the past.

Our 2020-2021 Salary Recommendations have been posted for several months. Congregations are already using them to plan for '20-'21. We recognize that the pandemic has caused financial difficulties and uncertainties, and that some congregations may be having second thoughts about pay increases for staff. We trust that you appreciate the hard work of your staff during these hard days and will make the best decisions you can based on all of the factors. Our Guide to UUA Salary Recommendations can further help you understand and use the information we provide.
Benefit Plan Eligibility and Employee Changes
Retirement Plan
This is a good time to review your UU Retirement Plan Employer Participation Agreement. Please note:

  • Your commitments as an employer cannot be changed in the middle of a Plan year (which is a calendar year).
  • Employees eligible for employer contributions must receive these contributions. They cannot be declined or taken as salary instead. If you are unsure who has met the Plan's Year of Eligibility Service criteria, see the first item on our Benefits Administration Checklist.
  • Once an employee becomes eligible for employer contributions, they remain eligible, even if their hours are later reduced. "Once in, always in." And again, "eligible for" means "must receive."

Insurance Plans
For all UUA insurance plans (Health, Dental, Life, and Long-Term Disability), eligible employees are those scheduled to work at least 750 hours/year. If you are changing the hours of any of your staff, pay attention to who is no longer eligible and who is newly eligible.

General Eligibility Reminders

  • Eligibility for UUA benefits is determined by Plan rules, not by employment agreements or personnel policies within individual congregations.
  • Eligibility criteria are different for the UUA Retirement Plan (employer contributions) than for the Insurance Plans.
  • All employees, regardless of hours and length of service, can participate in the UU Retirement Plan for the purpose of authorizing elective contributions through salary deferrals.
  • Our Benefits Tune-up Workbook is designed to help you understand the rules of our plans and ensure that you have good protocol in place for benefits administration.

Employee Benefits Change Form
The UUA Office of Church Staff Finances needs to know about changes in employee status that affect UUA benefits. For instance:

  • Is a staff member moving? This could change their health insurance premium.
  • Are hours or wage rates changing? This would impact their Life and Long-Term Disability premiums – or eligibility, if hours drop below 750/year.
  • Is a staff member terminating employment? We need to know when their coverage (insurance) and contributions (Retirement Plan) end.
Our Employee Benefits Change Form lists the kinds of changes that need to be reported and makes it easy to communicate them to us. Please use this form to tell us about changes to employee status for any staff member participating in a UUA benefit plan.
Professional Expenses: As Important as Ever
The March 2020 edition of Compensation and Staffing News featured an article describing professional expenses as a vocational lifeline.

When budgets are tight, expense lines might feel like an "easy" place to cut. Given the likelihood of limited travel in the months ahead, some adjustments to professional expense lines are probably reasonable. But we urge you to think twice before making radical reductions.

Please consider:

  1. Professional Organization Membership: Professional organizations provide resources, offer (virtual) events, and facilitate networking. In addition, members of UU professional organizations must adhere to their organization's code of ethics. All of this benefits congregations. Now, more than ever, staying connected and accessing resources are key to staff well-being. Please make sure your staff maintain membership in their professional organizations as appropriate.
  2. Skill-building and Reskilling: Many congregational staff are being asked to radically rethink their work. Expectations have been changing. New skills may need to be developed. Whether it's one-on-one coaching, an online course, or books and other resources, staff need funds to ensure that they can continue to be successful as their roles evolve.
  3. Workstation and Equipment: Many congregational staff quickly transitioned to working from home (WFH) and may have subpar home office setups. What do your staff need in order to do their jobs well, safely, and comfortably as WFH continues? An improved microphone for better sound during worship? An ergonomic office chair? Software? To be clear, in general, staff are not expected to pay from their own expense lines for "the basics" needed to do their jobs; these should be funded through an appropriate budget line. However, especially under these special circumstances, when extras are likely to be needed for an assortment of reasons, professional expense allowances may be appropriate way of funding them.

In terms of specific professional development programs, the UUA has a number of robust online offerings coming up:

For ministers and other staff in supervisory roles, we highly recommend courses and resources offered through The Management Center. Strong supervisory skills are valuable anytime, but especially during the pandemic, as staff are coping with significant shifts in their work and their programs.
Help with Congregational Finances
Some of you have already gotten to know Rev. Karen McArthur of Congregational Finance LLC. We've been in conversation with Karen about collaborating on a project in the future.

In the meantime, we greatly appreciate the resources available on the Congregational Finance LLC website. Recent posts offer help with Paycheck Protection Program loans bookkeeping support and a forgiveness spreadsheet. Many resources and services are available. We encourage you to check out this website.
UUA Office of Church Staff Finances
24 Farnsworth Street | Boston, MA 02210