Short Term Leaves of Absence
February 12, 2013
Updated April 29, 2014
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Your full time Music Director tells the Council/Administrator/Pastor that he needs to have back surgery. He states he will need to be off work for 2 full months, and then can likely do part time work for a few weeks before returning fully. He recalls about 6 years ago that the pastor’s pay was continued when he needed to be off for surgery, so he is assuming the same will be true for him, right?
Or…. the Youth Director announces she is pregnant and would like to take 12 weeks off when the baby is born. She presumes at least 6 weeks will be paid but she is wondering about pay for the additional 6 weeks, will those be paid as well?
Have you faced similar situations? If not, are you ready if something along these lines comes up tomorrow? Do you have a written policy, or an established practice? Without a policy assumptions can be made on both sides and conflict may ensue.
Unfortunately we often write policies or establish practices after we are presented with a question or event and we establish a policy in a reactionary mode. We may even write a new policy geared to the specifics of a situation without much regard for what similar events might come up down the road.
By law in the United States; churches (or employers) are not required to provide leaves of absence, nor pay the time off if leaves are granted, though they may elect to do so. Those employers with 50 or more employees are required to grant time off for specific reasons under the Family Medical Leave Act, but it is up to individual employers to determine whether time off is paid. Provincial laws in Canada address coverage for pregnancy, parental and family medical leave.
There is no one “correct” or “one size fits all” short term leave policy. Each church needs to decide what is right for them. Do you want to offer leaves of absence? If so, what would be qualifying reasons? Would this be available to all staff or only to full time, only specific positions? What would be the maximum length of time you could have a staff member gone and still hold their position for them? Will you offer some continuation of pay; for how long and under what circumstances?
Some of you have already faced this issue and have written a policy. Would you would be willing to share your policy and/or what you took into consideration?
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