Church Insurance


I attended a webinar this month, put on by Brotherhood Mutual Insurance which is one of the companies we proudly represent.  I attended an earlier webinar on Tax issues and found in both cases that even though it was directed toward Churches and Ministries, the information was just as helpful for businesses.  I will share the basic outline used and some sites to go to for additional information and hope you find it helpful, too. 


Saying Hello and Goodbye: How to Hire, Discipline, and Terminate Ministry Employees

 Webinar led by: Kathleen Turpin, JD, CPCU   

    Vice President – Human Resources at Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co. 


Guidelines for Hiring Employees

Step 1: Employee or Independent Contractor
Incorrectly classifying an employee as an independent contractor could leave a ministry on the hook for back taxes, severe fines, and other penalties.  You can learn more from the 10 Factor Test by clicking the link.

Court Considerations

In order for an independent contractor relationship to exist, the courts consider all of the factors. The more of the factors the courts finds exist, the more

likely they will find that the worker is an employee rather than a contractor.


Step 2: Job Descriptions

A well‐crafted job description is not only beneficial to protect your ministry legally, but it also spells out for an applicant what is expected to perform a job



 A job description does not need to be lengthy or cover everything the job entails, but it should give the applicant a good feeling of what he or she will be expected to do.


Why are job descriptions necessary?

The job description is the legal starting point when determining whether an organization has complied with or violated a law.


Job descriptions can also be helpful in:

          • Determining compensation

          • Evaluating performance

          • Training

          • Discipline

          • Americans with Disabilities Act compliance: Analyzing essential functions


Job descriptions typically include the following:

          • A short, high‐level summary of what the job is

          • A list of key responsibilities

          • A description of the experience, education, skills, and values that are required or desired
          • A list of any special working conditions or minimum physical requirements needed for the position


Step 3: Interviewing/Screening


Interviewing Best Practices:

Use a formal application if you hire more than one person a year

Come prepared

Explain the process

- I’ll tell: about the ministry

- I’ll ask: about experience, skills, mission alignment

- I’ll answer: about organizational structure, compensation,benefits

- We’ll discuss: unanswered questions

Conclude with contact information and next steps


Questions to avoid:

• Age

• Nationality

• Family status (plans to have children)

• Health related questions

As a ministry, you are permitted to ask about the applicant’s testimony and willingness to agree to a lifestyle statement and ministry mission.


Screening best practices:

• It is important to conduct a background screening on all employees, especially if they will work with children or vulnerable adults.

• Use a reputable and accurate company for background checks.

• Take results seriously.

• Check references.


Step 4: Offer Letters

Every employee should receive an offer letter – a verbal “handshake” alone isn’t recommended.


Step 5: Forms & Procedures: Background checks, I‐9

Forms to Complete:

W‐4 for Federal Income Tax Withholding (must be completed before receiving their first paycheck)

State Income Tax Withholding Form

Register each new employee to your state’s new hire reporting agency

I‐9 form

- Employees must also provide a photo document establishing identity (such as a driver’s license) and eligibility (such as a Social Security card).

- Copies aren’t acceptable forms of ID.

- Note: I‐9 forms must be kept in a separate folder.


Guidelines for Disciplining Employees

Using Progressive Discipline

Oral Warning

             Use specific examples

             Document this warning

Written Warning

             Deliver during a formal meeting

            Review previous warning

            Clarify expectations

            Obtain signed employee acknowledgement


Using Progressive Discipline

Corrective Action Plan

            Outline previous corrective actions

            Explain specific behavior or performance issues

            Set out specific improvement goals

            Review potential consequences

            Obtain signed employee acknowledgement

Last Chance Agreement

            Typically reserved for serious issues and isn’t necessary to use prior to termination

            Lay out conditions for immediate termination

            Obtain signed employee acknowledgement


Guidelines for Terminating Employees

Termination best practices:

Surprises aren’t good

Consult local counsel

Plan the exit strategy

Find out which documents to collect

Gather paperwork for benefits

Determine severance, if appropriate

Discuss security (physical and technological)

Decide what information will be shared, with whom, and when


Termination red flags:

Severance agreements

Payout of vacation and sick time

Two‐week notice

Unemployment benefits

Withholding final paycheck


What to say to staff:

Stick to the facts

Remind them of confidentiality standards

Recognize they shouldn’t “defend”

Provide talking points

Explain next steps


What to say to the congregation:

Stick to the facts

Don’t provide personal details

Explain why additional details can’t be provided

Show compassion


What to say to the community:

Stick to the facts if you say anything

Don’t provide personal details

Know how to respond to reference letters

• Have a plan for dealing with media requests




Ten Things Every Church Administrator Should Know About Staff and Volunteers

This free resource was created especially with church administrators in mind. It provides instructions, tips, and links to sample forms and checklists on a variety of administrative topics concerning employees and volunteers.

Download now!



 Working Together

 Ministry employment practices guidebook, featuring:

    • Best practices

    • Sample forms and policies

    • Tips for preparing an employee handbook

 Go to and search “Working Together”





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