HR for Parishes FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions about parish employment arrangements. If you have a question that isn’t listed here, please contact Amy Talbert, Human Resources Department, 416-363-6021 (1-800-668-8932) ext. 241.

Does our parish need job descriptions for our staff and volunteers?

Yes. A job description is an important part of any position in your organization. It’s a written record of expectations and allows everyone to have a clear understanding of the working relationships. When writing a job description, remember that it’s a summary of the duties and responsibilities required, not what the person is capable of doing.

Under the Responsible Ministry: Screening in Faith program, each parish is required to make a list of all positions associated with the church, whether short or long term, formally or informally established, paid or volunteer, occurs only on Sunday or during the week, on the church premises or off-site. Each description includes the job title, supervisor’s title, job duties and responsibilities, work conditions, compensation level, and assessed screening risk level. A number of Ministry Descriptions are available as samples.

Does our parish need to have written agreements for all of our staff?

Yes. Every work arrangement should be in writing. The onus is on the employer to state expectations clearly. Once you’ve determined whether you’re hiring an employee or independent contractor, you should develop a clear job description and employment agreement.

What should be included in the employment agreement?

Employment Agreements need to include a list of duties and responsibilities, a list of work conditions and a termination clause. The Diocese has put together sample employment agreements for a parish secretary, sexton and organist for you to review and modify as appropriate to your parish setting. You can also use these samples as a framework for other positions at your parish.

What is the difference between a parish employee and an independent contractor?

An employee is integral to the parish ministry and an independent contractor is a separate business that provides a service for the parish.

Be careful not to confuse the employees and independent contractors or the church may be subject to fines, penalties or other statutory obligations. To help you determine if the person you are hiring is an Employee or a Contractor please read “Employee vs. Contractor.”

Explanation of “employee”

Employees work as an integral part of the organization; take ongoing direction from a supervisor; earn their income from the parish and are paid through the parish payroll; and have statutory deductions (EI, CPP, and taxes) taken from their pay.  Examples include the custodian, organist/choir director, parish nurse, secretary/ administrator, sexton and youth minister.

Employees hired for a specific term (i.e. 1 year) are sometimes referred to as contract employees, but they’re still employees and should be treated as such. The defined period for a term employee should not be longer than 2 years. After 2 years of employment, term employees will be considered regular employees.

Explanation of “Independent Contractor”

Independent Contractors provide a service; have the ability to subcontract; have multiple clients; own their own tools or equipment; act with limited direction and supervision; assume the risk of financial profit or loss; submit an invoice for the service they provide; and assure the churchwardens that they have a GST number and adequate insurance coverage. Examples include electricians, furnace repair people, janitorial services (from a company) and plumbers.

What should be included in an independent contractor agreement?

The Diocese has put together a sample Independent Contractor Agreement for you to review and modify as appropriate for your parish. It includes an outline of the services to be provided, the terms of the agreement and a clear understanding of the expectations of both parties.