We frequently get questions about hiring members and the challenges that come with having members on staff. Congregational leaders ask if the UUA has rules or recommendations about members as employees. Here are two excellent resources on this topic:
an Gartner, UUA Compensation and Staffing Practices Manager, shares her perspective and some guiding questions:
Problems arise when staff members fail to recognize the unique responsibilities and relationships inherent to congregational employment. Whether they're a member or not, you need to ensure that each employee appreciates and honors the boundaries, role, and identity associated with being on staff in your congregation. Do you have policies and practices in place to aid these understandings? Are staff held to the codes of ethics of their respective professional organizations?
With members and non-member candidates alike, bring up these matters at the interview and upon hire. On an ongoing basis, talk about them during staff meetings and in supervision.
- What boundaries must be maintained?
- What limitations are there in talking to members about congregational business or member situations?
- During times of congregational conflict or stress, what does professionalism require of staff?
These are important topics for supervisors to discuss with all staff, regardless of membership status. For sure, though, things tend to be more complicated if the employee is a member of the congregation. When someone is both a member and an employee, I remind them that they are wearing two hats –
and that their "staff hat" needs to be the one that shows.
- What does this mean in practical terms?
- What privileges and responsibilities of membership are relinquished when they join the staff?
- What are the implications for their family members?
- How do their relationships with other congregation members need to change – especially with those they consider friends?
Allowing member-employees to volunteer in the congregation, even in areas that seem separate from their staff work, is a slippery slope and ill-advised. It is far too easy for work and volunteer responsibilities to commingle, leading to complications with hours-tracking and pay, as well as the blurring of roles and authority. For help navigating specific personnel-related situations, we encourage you to contact
your regional staff