I’ve been hearing rumors of the new regulations starting up December 1st with the Fair Labor Act. It has been hearsay up until last week when I finally got to hear from our Diocese about the matter. I am dismayed at what this means for our Church and field.
Churches can’t afford to pay overtime but the amount of time a dedicated minister needs to complete their job is so much more. For those of us who are salaried, we know our bills are paid and time is given by those who drive hard to accomplish what needs to be done. 70-100 hour weeks are not out of the ordinary during the year and a self regulated average of 50 per week is necessary. Measuring out the ebb and flow from week to week would create shortfalls in a personal budget.
A church cannot afford to pay that overtime and if they do, the weekly average would be minimal. We are cutting out those who are going above the typical “40 hour work week” which anyone in ministry would know as necessary to accomplish ministry. This is not a typical job.
Getting a full time job to open up at many parishes for youth is hard enough before you create disincentives to hire with this. No church is going to pay a full-time salaried staff $47,476 and anyone held to 40 hours is chained. A 25-45k price point is healthy and palatable for our industry. The average youth minister is making 34k nationally already which speaks to what parishes are willing and able to pay.
I think this is a disaster for church staff, in particular youth ministers and religious ed directors. I don’t think we should roll over on this and need to make some push back. I don’t think our Church needs more inhibitors but we do need to create the right opportunities and incentives to hire well tuned professionals. Lest we continue the brain drain. This regulation is poorly conceived even for the business world but it certainly wasn’t written with us as a thought. Those who are advocates for such a change will argue that this is a step in the right direction for social justice yet this is a very real example on why it is not. One size does not fit all. I’m sure those in the non-profit world would surely agree but I would love to hear their thoughts as well. Much of this can even apply to entrepreneurs and self-starting employees looking to go places.
I’ve called my Congressman and the White House already. I suggest we consider a larger pushback. Are there any plans or petitions to stand against this? Would you push back?