How to Pay Church Employees

Follow the Fair Labor Standards Act

If you compensate your full-time church staff on a salary or hourly basis, you should be aware of how those positions are defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Exempt Employees

Exempt (which includes most salaried positions) employees fall under one of the following three categories:

  • Executive—position responsibilities are primarily managerial.
  • Administrative—position responsibilities relate directly to management policies and require independent judgment.
  • Professional—position requires advanced knowledge in a particular field and the use of independent judgment.

In addition, exempt employees' compensation is based on the type of work they perform rather than the number of hours they work. With limited exceptions, exempt employees' pay may not be reduced for partial-day absences.

Nonexempt Employees

Nonexempt (or hourly) employees are paid for the actual hours worked. Accurate records must be kept to ensure that proper compensation is given. While you can usually require a nonexempt employee to work overtime, you must pay time-and-a-half for any work done in excess of 40 hours in a week.

Overtime must be paid in cash, not in the promise of future days off. Employers may only offer time off if it's taken within the same week the overtime was worked (flex time). Nonexempt employees cannot voluntarily work overtime without pay.