Legal Compliance
Legal Compliance As An Employer
Staffing & Supervision

As an employer, the congregation is subject to federal, state, and local employment laws. Following the law is foundational to being in right relationship with your staff and, of course, ensures that you avoid fines and other penalties.

Employee or Independent Contractor

Each individual you compensate is either an employee or an independent contractor. This is a critical legal distinction, with implications for benefits, taxes, and more. Nearly all workers in our congregations are employees. The congregation, as employer, is responsible for appropriate payroll tax withholding and remittance.

Exempt or Non-Exempt

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that protects employees by establishing standards for a minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping, and youth employment. Every employee needs to be classified as “exempt” or “nonexempt.” Make sure you are in compliance!

Legal Requirements for Pay and Benefits Administration

There are several must-do's related to pay and benefits administration for which congregations are held legally responsible as employers.

State-Specific Information:

The Office of Church Staff Finances focuses on nationally consistent information. We advise congregations to establish a relationship with an employment lawyer in your area who can counsel you on state and local laws and regulations. The resources below are provided as a starting point for common personnel-related laws that differ by state.

About the Author

  • Serving as OCSF Director since 2008, Richard previously served 11 years in parish ministry. Before ministry, Richard worked 22 years as a congressional staffer, health policy/disability advocate, and political consultant and 2 years as administrator for a health policy project in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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