​The presbytery is committed to being the best employer it can be. Its personnel manual conveys its benefits policies. For full-time staff, the presbytery fully pays dues for medical coverage for the employee and family (as needed), pension, and death and disability. For part-time staff working at least 20 hours per week, the presbytery pays dues for Member-only medical coverage and makes a 5% contribution to the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP). Part-time employees may elect other levels of medical coverage at their own expense and contribute to the RSP through salary deferrals.

The presbytery has two full-time positions: Presbytery Executive and Stated Clerk, which is vacant due to the recent retirement, after 18 years of service, of a minister member of the presbytery. There are two part-time positions: a 20-hour per week administrative assistant and a 20-hour per week bookkeeper/treasurer.

The Presbytery Executive is a minister. The presbytery enrolls her in the Benefits Plan in Pastor’s Participation, required for installed pastors and available for other ministers. Pastor’s Participation includes family medical coverage, pension, and death and disability. Dues for these benefits, based on established percentages of effective salary, are paid fully by the employer. The Personnel Committee consciously decided to enroll minister members of the presbytery staff in Pastor’s Participation, following what is required of congregations in enrolling their pastors and thus supporting Pastor’s Participation’s distinctive expressions of community nature.

Calvin is an elder with 20 years of experience as a corporate archivist. He is the finalist in the search for a Stated Clerk. It is a full-time position with a salary of $64,000. He is 42 years old, married, and has three children, ages 9 to 16.

Questions and considerations

  1. In light of the presbytery’s personnel policies and the specific circumstances, how should the Personnel Committee address benefits for the Stated Clerk position?
  2. What are the distinctive expressions of community nature in the Benefits Plan?
  3. How would you assess the presbytery’s approach to the provision of benefits for part-time employees?

The Board's perspective

  1. The presbytery’s personnel manual stipulates that medical coverage for the employee and family (as needed), pension, and death and disability be provided for full-time employees. These benefits, the same as those in Pastor’s Participation, can be provided for Calvin through menu options:
    1. Dues for pension participation and death and disability coverage are available for 12% of effective salary.
    2. Medical coverage is available through the preferred provider organization (PPO) option; all that differs from Pastor’s Participation is the pricing for coverage, which is based on demographic factors, including age and the cost of services in Calvin’s area. The presbytery would fully pay for medical coverage at the level needed, presumably family coverage.
    3. The presbytery fulfills the commitment of its personnel manual and provides parity of benefits between the full-time Presbytery Executive and the Stated Clerk, although the cost of medical coverage is calculated differently for menu options and Pastor’s Participation.
  2. Community nature is evident in several ways:
    1. With the Pension Plan, workers whose salaries are less than the national median for their employee classification receive pension credits as if they were paid the median salary. These additional credits come at no cost to the employer or employee.
    2. With PPO medical coverage, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums are lower for lower-paid church workers. [Pastor’s Participation sets dues for PPO medical coverage as a percentage of effective salary (subject to the medical minimum dues rate). Consequently, churches that pay their pastors smaller salaries secure the benefit for a lesser cost while the benefit remains unaffected.]
  3. The clearest, most coherent way to classify employees is on the basis of full-time and part-time employment:
    1. The presbytery commits to providing specified benefits to part-time employees who meet the 20-hour per week minimum established by the Board of Pensions for Benefits Plan enrollment.
    2. The presbytery’s policy for part-time employees encourages equitable treatment of employees in that classification and utilizes the flexibility of the Benefits Plan to scale the benefits to part-time employment.
  4. Apart from the requirement that installed pastors be in Pastor’s Participation, employers have considerable latitude in determining the benefits to offer to certain groups of employees and how employer and employee will share the costs of certain benefits, such as medical coverage.