Employee Manuals

It is helpful for congregations to have an employee manual that spells out the church’s policies, benefits, etc. The following are provided as examples you can use to develop one for your church.

Please be aware that whatever you put into a manual establishes your legal obligations. So it if you are, for example, generous and always give employees the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day “off,” it is better to do that each year as a “gift” and not include it in your manual. If you put it in your manual, you are obligated to close the office that week — even if it turns out, five years from now, that you really need your staff to be present. So a manual is a place for the rules. Provide exceptions to the rules (bonuses, extra days off, etc.) on a case-by-case basis.

It is also helpful to have an employment lawyer or at least someone who works in Human Resources review the manual before you publish it. Call the diocese if you need recommendations for who might do this for you if your congregation has no one with that experience.

Model Personnel Handbook – Diocese of MA