Beyond your foundational documents and your statement of belief document, few documents are more integral to ministry operations than an employee handbook. A well-written, positive-focused handbook gives ministries the opportunity to clearly communicate expectations to employees.
If your organization doesn’t have an employment handbook, it’s time to devote resources to creating one. If you already have a handbook, don’t let it gather dust —an out-of-date handbook can be as harmful as not having a handbook at all.
“Your handbook should be reviewed and revised on a regular basis. Courts and Congress are constantly shaping the area of employment law,” said Julie James, a MinistryWorks senior payroll processor who also specializes in HR solutions.
The purpose of an employment handbook is to provide guidelines regarding the expectations that you, the organization, have established for employee performance. It’s also an opportunity for employers to communicate some of the benefits employees may receive during their employment with your ministry.
Many critical handbook policies intersect with payroll such as:
Other policies, like bereavement and military leave, jury duty, and attendance are strongly encouraged.
“Someone new to payroll processing for a Christian organization quickly learns that payroll and employment concerns directly intersect. An employment handbook not only sets expectations but can help answer questions related to pay and benefits administration,” said James.
When developing an employment handbook, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. First, it’s critical that you ask a local attorney to review your handbook. State and local laws may apply to your organization that don’t affect employers in other parts of the state or country.
Next, because employment law is constantly changing, handbooks should be reviewed at least once every two to three years. If necessary, they should be revised to comply with current law.
Handbook policies should be communicated to employees and followed consistently. This not only establishes expectation, it’s a vital step for limiting liability. Consider these three opportunities as a consistent way to communicate your policies:
Well-drafted employment handbooks provide concise, relevant policies and guidelines that supply necessary information to employees. An employment handbook should:
An employment handbook should not:
Because every organization has different needs and procedures, the policies that you include in your handbook may differ from those of other organizations. In some cases, legal and risk management issues will dictate that you include certain guidelines.
Automate and store documents in one place. One of James’ responsibilities is working the Human Capital Management (HCM) tool offered by MinistryWorks. She helps ministries automate tasks that are part of the employee onboarding process, benefits administration, and talent management tracking. The automation portion is the key for anyone handling HR processes looking for a better solution than tracking lengthy email chains, organizing paper copies of HR documents, and stuffing file cabinets. “The system is intuitive. Whatever kind of HR documents your organization requires, HCM stores them in one location—easy to keep and easy to find,” said James.
Onboarding tasks that involve compliance processes, like a signed I-9, or confirmation that an employment handbook was received can all be automated, too. “Once you create or update your handbook, you simply upload the document and set the system to send to all employees. You can even automate an e-signature for receipt acknowledgement.”
Working Together offers a framework designed to help your organization successfully review or create your employment handbook.
Posted December 2022
The information in this article is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.