Fair & Just Compensation for Church Workers

About This Resource

As a church committed to justice and equity out of our Christian understanding, compensation for all employees of Local Churches in the Northern California Nevada Conference is a matter of spiritual significance. Our budgets and stewardship of financial resources, as well as our care for our employees, is a tangible expression of our faith in action.

Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. -Romans 4:4

The laborer deserves their wages. –1 Timothy 5:18

Generally speaking, employment in Local Churches can be categorized in four broad ways:

  • Authorized Ministers (those serving under 3- or 4-Way Covenant and Call Agreement)
  • Program Staff (educators, youth workers, mission staff, musicians, etc)
  • Support Staff (office administrators, financial clerks, etc)
  • Contracted Support (pulpit supply, consultants, short-term employment)

Fair & Just Compensation for Church Workers is established to provide guidance to Local Churches in considering the critically important, and yet sometimes awkward and uncomfortable, process of compensating their church staff. This workbook supports Personnel Committees, Boards of Trustees, Ministerial Search Committees, Pastoral Relations Committees, Authorized Ministers, Local Church staff members, and others in navigating the waters of fair, equitable compensation.

What’s Included Here?

The document Fair & Just Compensation for Church Workers: A Resource for Local Churches, Authorized Ministers, and Professional Church Staff outlines the rationale for compensation in each area. It is extensive and a critical resource for individuals engaging in questions of compensation for church employees.

A Guidelines Reference Grid is available to summarize each Guideline based on the present amount. The first effective year is 2018, giving Local Churches time to transition to this new resource. A good plan for Local Churches who are substantially below Fair & Just Compensation standards in 2017 is to have serious conversation about the ministry they are called to in their community and explore the best structure to accomplish that ministry.

Worksheets A, C, and D are available both to be printed and completed by hand, as well as in Excel format for automatic calculation of certain parts of the Fair & Just Compensation formula.

An Important Note for Church Leaders

In the State of California, in order to qualify as exempt, employees must earn a wage at least equal to two times that of the state minimum wage. This means that an employee must earn equal to or more than $24 per hour (annualized to $49,920 for 1.0 FTE) in organizations with 25 or fewer employees, or $26 per hour (annualized to $54,080 for 1.0 FTE) in organizations with 26 or more employees to meet the compensation threshold of the exemption test. If an employee is considered full-time and exempt, and their salary is less than the annualized amount, such classification of the position as exempt is improper and the church is not in compliance with state law. Likewise, if an employee is considered part-time exempt but their salary does not equal the pro rata amount, the employing church is not in compliance with state law.

In 2020, the State of California minimum wage for non-exempt employees is $12 per hour for organizations with 25 or fewer employees, and $13 per hour for organizations with 26 or more employees.

Fair & Just Compensation utilizes the higher threshold — of an employer with 26 or more employees — to reach its standards, recognizing the Conference as a covenant community with more than 26 laborers.

The State of Nevada does not have a similar law regarding exempt employees. As of July 1, 2020, the State of Nevada minimum wage will be $8 per hour if health benefits are provided, and $9 per hour if health benefits are not offered. Compensation thresholds for compliance with exempt categorization are the same as the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Note: counties and municipalities in both states may have established higher minimum wages, and the more stringent regulation prevails. Check with your municipal clerk’s office if you are unsure whether a stricter regulation applies to your jurisdiction.

Conference staff is happy to assist you in exploring questions and opportunities to ensure compliance with state compensation law, including referral to a labor attorney.