Compensation and Staffing News
September 2019

In some email readers, you may need to click on continuation dots to read the entirety of each article.
The UUA Compensation Program: Past, Present, and Future
Prior to 1995, the UUA didn't provide any recommendations to help congregations with compensation decisions. The result was inconsistent and inequitable compensation packages for ministers and staff as each individual employee and congregation negotiated their own terms without any guiding information.

In 1990, to address ongoing compensation challenges, the UUA formed the Committee on Ministerial and Church Staff Compensation. This group grounded their work not in "finding the right numbers," but in two fundamental questions that are just as relevant today:

  • How can we promote the health and future of our congregations?
  • How can we work to assure a ministry to an increasingly diverse and inclusive religion in a world which needs it so desperately?

Over the next five years, the Committee administered surveys, conducted research, held regional meetings, and received advice from a consulting firm. In their resulting report, To Sustain the Living Tradition , they provided initial recommendations in the form of salary ranges for eight positions and benefit levels for full-time staff. The UUA Compensation Program was formally adopted at the 1995 General Assembly.

Institutional awareness quickly grew. District Compensation Consultants were recruited as ambassadors for the Program. "Fair Compensation" entered the UU lexicon. Congregations were eager to advertise that they met UUA Guidelines. All in all, the ability of congregations and staff to have conversations about salaries and benefits from an informed place improved greatly.

The UUA Compensation Program is now 24 years old. That's impressive staying power! Of course, between 1995 and now, we've made some changes. We've updated the salary charts regularly, added more positions and size detail, adjusted the recommended benefits package, and fine-tuned our methodology from time to time.

But relative to the pace and magnitude of changes in religious life, human resources, workforce trends, and the larger culture, the evolution of the Compensation Program has been modest. So we're undertaking a review of the Program, with a plan to refresh it in phases. Stay tuned to Compensation and Staffing News over the course of the fall to learn about Phase One, coming in early 2020.
Professional Expenses for Ministers
Our guideline for ministerial professional expenses increased for the 2019-2020 year. The previous guideline was the greater of $5,000 (prorated for part-time) or 10% of Salary + Housing. The new guideline is the greater of $8,000 (prorated) or 10% of Salary + Housing. This increase affects ministers whose Salary + Housing falls between $50,000 and $80,000. There are multiple reasons for this change:

  • The $5,000 level had been in place for many years. We are playing catch-up with increases over time to the costs of travel, lodging, event fees, professional dues, and more.
  • To reinforce the importance of ongoing formation and professional growth in an ever-changing field, the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA) recently introduced Continuing Education Standards for ministers: all UUMA members are expected to complete at least 60 hours of continuing education over a 3-year period. An increase in professional expenses will help cover costs associated with this new expectation.
  • Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, unreimbursed business expenses are no longer deductible. In the past, a minister might pay out of pocket for an expense and then take that amount as a deduction on their taxes. As this is no longer possible, it is more important than ever to ensure that the professional needs of ministers and other staff are covered through their expense line.

Thank you for supporting your entire staff in learning new skills and deepening and refreshing their ministries. Continuing education can prevent burnout, amplify professionalism, and strengthen collegial relations. Learn more about expense lines and accountable reimbursement plans on our Professional Expense Allowances page.
I-9 Forms
The U.S. Government's Form I-9, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, is used to verify workers' identity and employment eligibility. The current form shows an expiration date of 08/31/2019. A revised form is not yet available. Employers are being advised to keep using the current version for now. Be sure you have this form on file for every employee hired after November 6, 1986.
UUA Office of Church Staff Finances
24 Farnsworth Street | Boston, MA 02210