According to Canon 15, the churchwardens are empowered, after consultation with the Incumbent, to make sure the parish has adequate and appropriate lay staffing. They are the hiring and firing authority of the parish and, when hiring, must ensure there is a job description, a fair and open hiring process and a suitable workspace. Nevertheless, all matters having to do with the management of the affairs of the parish should be under the joint management and control of the Incumbent and Churchwardens acting together.
There are obvious advantages to hiring parishioners – they know about the congregation and understand the functions of the church. On the other hand, the priest must function as both supervisor and pastoral caregiver. To safeguard the interests of the parish as well as the individual, and with an eye to the Human Rights Code, strive to choose the most qualified and gifted person for the position. If that person is a parishioner, speak openly and frankly about how that person’s relationship with the clergy and church will change. The Ontario Human Rights Commission produces a helpful document called Human Rights at Work that includes a section on Interviewing and Making Hiring Decisions.
Parishes, regardless of their size, must be responsible employers and make sure their practices comply with all appropriate legislation, such as:
- Ontario Employment Standards Act
- Human Rights Code
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- Workplace Safety Insurance Act
- Income Tax Act
- Employment Insurance legislation
Under the Responsible Ministry: Screening in Faith Program, all high-risk parish staff (both paid and volunteer) must have a criminal records check done before any work begins. This check is to verify that you aren’t bringing a potentially high-risk person (such as a sexual predator) into the vulnerable environment of the church.