Ministry and Personnel (M & P) Committees
Where should we start as an M&P Committee?
Ministry and Personnel (M&P) Committees in pastoral charges are responsible for supporting, overseeing, and supervising ministry personnel and lay staff. This webpage provides resources and information to help M&P Committees carry out their responsibilities. Besides the governing body and trustees, M&P is the only committee that is mandatory in the United Church of Canada. That is indicative of the critical function of M&P. Churches are employers and the M&P Committee has primary responsibility for supporting, consulting and managing employees of the church—both lay employees and ministry personnel.
Fortunately, the UCC has excellent written resources for M&P Committees. The two most important documents that are your go-to resources are:
Ministry and Personnel Committees Policy, Procedures, Practices (PDF January 2019)
Resources for Ministry and Personnel Committees (PDF January 2019)
A third important document is Pastoral Relations: Supporting the Pastoral Relationship (PDF November 2020). This handbook provides important information pertaining to supporting, consulting and managing ministry personnel specifically.
Many of your questions can be answered by referring to these three handbooks.
Finally, remember that as an employer in Ontario, you must comply with the Employment Standards Act (ESA), the provincial legislation that provides the framework for employment issues. The ESA legal document itself is not terribly user friendly. Fortunately, the government has created a very accessible Guide to the Employment Standards Act
Please see below for many frequently asked questions we receive from M&P Committee members. If you still cannot find the answer to your question, please consult your Pastoral Relations Minister:
Pastoral Relations Minister
Canadian Shield Regional Council
Phone: 705-474-3350, 1-833-236-0281 ext. 3
I don’t know if an employee is an employee or an independent contractor. What’s the difference?
Employment Standards Act (ESA) Guide: Employee Status
Independent contractors are not considered employees of the church and are not entitled to employee rights such as vacation, overtime and termination pay. Independent contractors are not directly supervised by the church, use their own tools to do the job, and invoice the church for their services. They cannot be disciplined by the church and they have the right to sub-contract their work. They generally have their own companies including an HST number.
In recent years, government legislation has provided clearer guidance for distinguishing independent contractors from employees. See Independent Contractor vs Employee Ontario Nov 2019 (PDF | 4 pages – November 26, 2019) for a more detailed explanation of the difference between the two.
Are lay employees managed differently from our ministry personnel?
In many regards, yes, lay employees have different applicable policies than ministry personnel. Ministry personnel are exempted from the Ontario Employment Standards Act and policies pertaining to ministry personnel can be found in the M&P handbooks, The Manual, and Pastoral Relations: Supporting the Pastoral Relationship (PDF | 18 pages) November 2020. Lay employees fall under the Employment Standards Act. Some resources to assist you in managing lay employees are found below.
Managing Lay Employees in the Church
Here is a video webinar from October 27, 2021 for M & P Committees that was held jointly by Antler River Watershed, Horseshoe Falls, Shining Waters and Western Ontario Waterways regional councils. It may answer questions you have about managing lay employees in your community of faith.
Is it mandatory to conduct annual performance reviews of our employees?
While not mandatory under either the Employment Standards Act or United Church of Canada policy, conducting an annual performance review of each of your employees is highly recommended. An annual performance review is an opportunity to review the employment relationship, give feedback to the employee, hear about any employee concerns, show support for the employee, and talk about any changes that may be needed to the employee’s work and/or job description.
A suggested process along with sample questions to be used in the review can be found in Resources for Ministry and Personnel Committees (PDF| 40 pages) in the “Resources for the Supervisory Role of the M&P Committee” section, starting on page 30.
For a specific and detailed annual review process for your ministry personnel, please see the documents below:
Instructions for the Annual Assessment of Ministry Personnel | PDF (2 pages) April 2019
Ministry Personnel Self Assessment and Goal Setting | Word ( 6 pages) –
M&P Committiee Assessment and Goal Setting | Word (6 pages)
Ministry Personnel and Committee Joint Dialogue | Word (2 pages)
For an annual review process for your lay employees, please see the following:
Sample Performance Appraisal for Lay Employee 1 | Word (2 pages)
Sample Performance Appraisal for Lay Employees 2 | Word (6 pages)
Principles of Feedback
Principle #1: Feedback is a regular practice. It just doesn’t happen when there is a problem. Positive feedback, appreciation is an important counterpoint when difficult feedback needs to happen. (90% positive to 10% constructive feedback)
Principle #2: Focus on the issue and not the person (stay curious). It’s important to distill the feedback you want to give to make sure it’s about an objective issue that can be worked on.
Principle #3: Does the issue concern the staff person or does the feedback belong with a church committee or someone else?
You will find more about giving and receiving feedback in the Resources for Ministry and Personnel Committees (PDF| 40 pages), on page 11.
Health and Wellness
How many sick days are we required to provide to our employees?
ESA Guide: Sick Leave
The ESA sets a minimum of three unpaid sick days for employees. Many United Churches offer a standard one paid sick day per month, pro-rated for part time employees.
For extended illnesses, employees who are a part of the UCC Pension & Benefits Plan (14 hrs/week minimum) can access a UCC sick leave provision called the Restorative Care Program. If medically supported and approved, an employee is provided with salary continuation (after a two week waiting period) and the employer is reimbursed 85% of the employee’s salary for up to six months. At that time, the employee is assessed for eligibility into a Long Term Disability program. For Restorative Care Program applications, please contact your Pastoral Relations Minister.
There is no prescribed limit to the number of sick days a minister may take. However, the Restorative Care Program described above is also available to all ministers working 14 hrs/week or more.
What resources are available for our employees if they need help?
All employees who work 14 hrs/week or more are automatically enrolled in the UCC Pension & Benefits program. This includes the Employee Family Assistance Program, a voluntary, confidential counselling service that allows your employees and their eligible family members to discuss personal or work-related problems and concerns in an understanding and professional environment away from the workplace. Short-term, solution-focused counselling is provided. Employees can access the program by simply calling:
- 1-800-387-4765 (English)
- 1-800-361-5676 (French)
Our minister has indicated they are due for a sabbatical. What are the policies around sabbaticals?
A minister who has completed five years of service in one appointment or call is eligible for a paid sabbatical of at least three months. Please see Pastoral Relations: Supporting the Pastoral Relationship pages 12 – 14 for information about how sabbaticals are developed and approved. Shining Waters Regional Council has a grant program to help communities of faith to pay for supply ministers or pulpit supply while your minister is on sabbatical. Contact your Pastoral Relations Minister for more information about these grants.
This short video on sabbatical is an excellent introduction for your M&P Committee, your governing body and even your congregation. It will help you to understand the importance of a sabbatical for your minister and how it will enhance both your minister and the congregation: Ministry Vitality | The United Church of Canada (united-church.ca)
Do we pay out continuing education amounts to ministers, regardless of whether or not they are used?
Continuing education funds must be offered annually to all ministers in a call or appointment. It is the responsibility of the M&P Committee to discuss the use of these funds with your minister. The funds are paid out on an “as used” basis in response to requests from your minister, and should be paid out for the year they are budgeted. This could be the calendar year, the church’s budget year, or the pastoral year (July 1 – June 30). Be clear with your minister about the year being used for continuing education funds and use this time period consistently from year to year.
If the funds are not spent by the end of the year, they are not paid out to the minister, nor are the funds rolled over into the next year. The only exception to this is if previous arrangements have been made between the ministry personnel and the pastoral charge/ministry unit to roll over a portion for a continuing education goal.
Changes in Employment
We need to end the employment relationship with an employee. What should we do?
ESA Guide: Termination of Employment
Terminating the employment of an employee is a weighty decision with significant consequences for the employee and the employer, and needs to be done with care and diligence. It is highly recommended that you seek the advice of an employment lawyer before taking this step. The ESA outlines your minimum obligations to an employee when terminating the employment relationship. In practice, case law often prescribes higher termination pay than set out in the ESA, taking into consideration factors such as future employability, employee age, and other circumstances. That is why legal advice is critical in taking this step.
Ending a pastoral relationship with ministry personnel is entirely different from the process used with lay employees. Before any action is taken, you must consult with your Pastoral Relations Minister, who will provide accompaniment and information about UCC policy and procedures.
How much vacation do we give our lay employees? Is it the same for ministry personnel?
For lay employees, there is no policy or guidance from the UCC about how much vacation churches should offer to their employees. The provincial government’s ESA spells out the minimum amount you must give to lay employees. See the link above. As of 2021, the ESA mandates a minimum of two weeks vacation for employees who have worked less than five years, and three weeks for employees who have worked five weeks of more.
Ministry personnel are entitled to one month of vacation, regardless of number of years worked. See The Manual (2021) Section I 2.1.7 for more information about a minister’s vacation entitlement.
Can vacation days be carried over from one year to the next?
The rules again differ for lay employees and ministers. For lay employees, it is important to establish the vacation year (it can be the anniversary date of the employee’s hiring, or the calendar year). Lay employees have 10 months from the end of their vacation year to use their earned vacation days. (Example, employee is hired July 1, 2021 and earns two weeks of vacation during their first year of employment. The employee has until April 30, 2023 to use up the two weeks of vacation they earned from July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022).
For ministers, the vacation year is July 1 – June 30 (referred to as the “pastoral year” in the UCC). Ministers are not allowed to bank vacation from one vacation year to the next.
What happens if a lay employee or minister has not taken their vacation by the deadline?
It is the responsibility of the M&P Committee to track and schedule vacation. Ideally vacation scheduling is a mutual decision with an employee, but the employer does have the right to schedule an employee’s vacation. Plan well in advance to avoid situations where earned vacation has not been taken by the deadline. For lay employees, vacation entitlement earned but not taken by the deadline must be paid out as vacation pay to the employee. Employees may give up vacation time, but not the right to vacation pay.
Ministers must use their vacation by the deadline. There is no provision for paying out unused vacation to ministers.
M&P Committees can use a UCC vacation and study leave worksheet tracking tool to help track and schedule vacation.
Vacation Facts for Lay Employees (PDF | 1 page) – Resource document from a 2015 workshop for M&P Committees
For a list of people who are able to do pulpit supply for ministers’ vacation coverage in the summer and who are quite comfortable using online worship tools, such as Zoom, please contact Susan Whitehead at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there training and support available for M&P committees?
Yes, there are a variety of ways the Regional Council supports M&P committees.
a) Training – Every year, usually in the spring after annual meetings have taken place where new M&P members are elected, we offer an “M&P 101”. These are sometimes offered as in-person workshops or as webinars. When a 101 training is offered, a notice is sent out to all pastoral charges in Shining Waters and to the list of M&P committee chairs that we have on file. Registration is required, but there is no charge. Notices are also posted here about upcoming workshops. The 101 workshop is intended as an orientation and training for new M&P committee members.
b) Support – While many answers can be found in the M&P Handbooks of the UCC or on this website, we recognize that human resources can be complex and situations arise which require consultation with the Regional Council. Your pastoral relations ministers are here to help you. Please contact them when you are faced with a complex situation or cannot find an answer to your question in the M&P resources available. Contact information for the pastoral relations ministers is at the bottom of this web page.
In 2021, the Regional Council also began to hold quarterly on-line check-ins for M&P committees. These are more informal gatherings where the pastoral relations ministers share information and participants have an opportunity to ask specific questions. There is no registration required and notice of the dates is sent to all pastoral charges and our list of M&P chairs.
We also offer topical workshops for M&P committees. Past workshops have focused on issues such as conflict resolution, managing lay employees, conducing annual assessments of employees, understanding the Ontario Employment Standards Act, and others.
M&P Committee 101 – An Introduction to the Work of the M&P Committee
A video of the May 4, 2022 M&P Commitee 101 training workshop. Facilitated by SWRC Pastoral Relations Ministers, Dale Hildebrand and Todd McDonald and Canadian Shield Regional Council Pastoral Relations Minister, Rob Smith. The 101 workshop is intended as an orientation and training for new M&P committee members.
Pastoral Relations Minister for Canadian Shield Regional Council
Phone: 1-833-236-0281 Ext. 3
Works from the Thunder Bay office, supports communities of faith as they travel through the pastoral relations process in times of transition, serves as a resource to Ministry and Personnel Committees and supports ministry personnel to find health, joy, and excellence in the practice of ministry in the Canadian Shield region.