Tips and Resources on Compensation and Personnel Matters

Compensation and Staffing News
December 2017
Year-End Briefs from the Office of Church Staff Finances
  • Employee Classification: Is anyone working in your congregation getting a 1099 rather than a W-2 form? The vast majority of workers in our congregations are employees, not independent contractors. (Don't be confused by ministers' dual tax status.) At this turning of the year, please confirm that everyone is properly classified and make necessary changes. Check out our Employee or Independent Contractor? resource page. Getting this right is a matter of justice for workers as well as legal compliance. Remember that independent contractors cannot participate in our benefit plans.
  • Housing Allowance Designation: Make sure that a housing allowance is formally designated for your ordained minister prior to the beginning of 2018. Our Housing Allowance FAQ explains this clergy tax provision. We also have a Housing Allowance Calculation Form to guide ministers in determining an appropriate amount to claim.
  • Professional Expense Clarification: An item of enduring value (e.g., a laptop) purchased through an accountable expense reimbursement plan is the property of the congregation. When someone leaves employment, by default the item remains with the congregation. If the staff member wants to arrange to keep it, they can either pay the congregation for the depreciated value of the item, or have that amount imputed (added as income) on their W-2. Learn more about professional expense allowances.
  • Saving for Retirement - A Gift to One's Future Self: This season of gift-giving and resolutions makes it a perfect time to remind all of your staff that they can save for their later years in our Retirement Plan via salary reduction. Yes, every employee (age 18 or over) has the ability to make elective pre-tax deferrals, regardless of hours or length of service! Here's the 2018 Employee Contributions Agreement. Contact Linda Rose, UUA Retirement Plan Director, with any questions.
2018-2019 Salary Recommendations and Resources
The UUA Office of Church Staff Finances team recently posted 2018-2019 Salary Recommendations and related resources. Please note:
  • New for 2018-2019, the Geo Index Listing indicates locations with an especially high cost of living relative to cost of wages. (The Geo Index itself is based on cost of wages.)
  • You may recall that this program year (2017-2018) was defined as a "catch-up year," in which we held recommendations steady to allow for thoughtful congregational review and adjustment of salaries with respect to our guidelines. Thus, the 4% increase in salaries for all positions in 2018-2019 reflects changes in wages over a 2-year period.
  • The Guide to Salary Recommendations has been updated to provide a deeper understanding of our recommendations and how to use them in your context for new and continuing staff.
  • Our Compensation Worksheet has been modified for greater flexibility. This resource helps congregational leaders make sure they are budgeting appropriately for benefits.
Staffing for Diversity
Part V: Ongoing Staff Support

Over the past four months, we've used this Staffing for Diversity column to reflect on: Now we turn our attention to ongoing support for a diverse staff.

Congregational Reflection
Deep conversation and ongoing education are necessary for any kind of diversity effort to be successful. With respect to staffing, in our August issue, we shared reflection questions offered by Taquiena Boston, UUA Director of Multicultural Growth and Witness, as adapted from a keynote delivered by Rev. Dr. Miguel De La Torre for the 2013 Mosaic Makers Conference. These bear revisiting:
  1. What are the vision and values that motivate our congregation to hire a diverse staff? 
  2. What kind of diversity is already present in our staffing? (Examples: sex, gender expression/gender identity, ability, age, sexual identity, race, ethnicity, education) 
  3. How might our congregational/community culture support attracting and retaining diversity in our staff leadership? How might our congregation/community need to change? What are we willing to sacrifice to achieve this goal? 
In addition to the questions above, once again we recommend   edited by Mitra Rahnema (Skinner House 2017). A downloadable discussion guide is now available for this 2017-2018 UUA Common Read. Although the book focuses on religious professionals (primarily ministers) of color, their stories, challenges, and perspectives will help you strengthen your understanding and support of all of your staff and the diversity they bring.

Norms, Biases, and Assumptions
What norms are operating in your congregation - unwritten rules, patterns, or ways of being that you don't even notice because they are simply "part of the water you swim in"? Congregational norms aren't necessarily good or bad, but it's important to recognize them and to consider how they might make life easier for some staff members and harder for others. Adding to these organizational norms are biases and assumptions that you and other individuals might bring to your leadership. See if you can name things that are "just how it works" in your congregation, look at your own leadership with fresh eyes, and think about how these ways of being may impact staff of marginalized identities.

Pay special attention to assumptions and practices around finances and access. For instance, do you assume that staff can pay for expenses out of pocket and get reimbursed afterwards? (Always have an alternative process.) Do you expect staff to have the technology and circumstances that allow them to check email or do work from home? (What starts out as offering flexibility can slide into establishing an expectation.) Do staff take up collections for birthday gifts? Anything involving staff members' personal finances and home situations should be handled carefully.

Formal Processes and Practices
Your congregation provides direct support to staff through, among other things: compensation (salary and benefits), office space and setup, employment agreements and personnel policies, supervision, performance feedback, staff meetings, and staff team development. As your staff becomes more diverse and you become more intentional about your support, you're likely to notice ways that these systems and structures unduly favor some staff over others. Whatever your leadership role, we urge you to pay attention, to raise concerns, and to seek ways of strengthening the experience of staff of color and other staff who may experience marginalization. Your efforts can help dismantle systemic oppression in your congregation, in Unitarian Universalism, and in our society as a whole.
Jan Gartner | Compensation and Staffing Practices Manager |
 UUA Office of Church Staff Finances
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