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  4. 1. Foothills Employment Policies and Practices

1. Foothills Employment Policies and Practices

A. Equal Opportunity / Non-Discrimination Policy

Foothills is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, family structure, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status or veteran status, or any other classification protected by law. In addition, Foothills complies with state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment including but not limited to recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfers, leave of absence, compensation, benefits, training and all similar employment matters. Religious opinion and affiliation may be considered only to the extent that it may prevent an employee from being fully supportive of the Church’s mission and values or perform their required duties.

B.  Employee Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, unless it would cause undue hardship.  A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way a job is performed that enables a person with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.

We will make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with a known disability or medical condition.  Employees needing such accommodation are requested to contact the Senior Minister as soon as the need for accommodation is known, and to put their accommodation request in writing.  This policy governs all aspects of employment including selection, job assignment, compensation, discipline, termination and access to benefits and training.

C. Background Checks

All employees are subject to a background check prior to being hired.

D.  Employment At-Will

All employees are employed at-will and may be dismissed at any time for any reason.

E. Anti-Nepotism Policy

Any family member within one generation, committed partner or spouse of an employee cannot serve on the Board of Trustees.  The Senior Minister may make exceptions to this policy on a case-by-case basis, except for in the case of their own family member, for which there would be no exception.

Relatives of other employees can be employed by the Church, so long as employment does not create actual or perceived conflicts of interest.  For purposes of this policy, “relative” is defined as a spouse or partner, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, first cousin, or corresponding or “step” relation.

Related individuals are permitted to work together provided no direct reporting or supervisor/management relationship exists. That is, no employee is permitted to work within the chain of command of a relative such that one relative’s work responsibility, salary, or career progress could be influenced by the other relative.

No relatives are permitted to work in the same Department or in any other positions where an inherent conflict of interest may exist. The Senior Minister may make exceptions to this policy on a case-by-case basis, except regarding their direct relative, in which case the Board’s approval would be required.

This policy applies to all categories of employment at the Church, including regular, temporary, and part time classifications.

F.  Exempt and Non-Exempt Designations

Our practice is to distinguish between exempt employees from non-exempt employees.  Generally, those in administration, management or supervisory positions (i.e. Directors, the Church Administrator, and other professionals) who are not subject to such regulation are “exempt” from overtime laws.  All other employees are considered non-exempt and will be compensated based on corresponding state or federal minimum wage and overtime laws.

G. Established Work Week

The scheduled workweek starts at 12:01 a.m. Monday and ends at midnight on Sunday. Employees are expected to work with their supervisor to establish their work schedule, ensuring prompt communication of any expected variations.

H. Employee Supervision

All employees are supervised as set forth in the Job Description applicable to their position. Also, please note the organizational chart in the appendix of this handbook.

The Senior Minister is the Head of Staff, and is responsible for hiring, dismissal, and supervision of all employees except for other settled clergy, and delegates authority for supervision as provided in the employee job description.

The Church Administrator works with all other Church employees regarding personnel concerns related to topics Including but not limited to wages, hours, leave, benefits, office procedures, and general orientation.

If a supervisor position is either vacant or not readily available, the Senior Minister will act in their place.  If not available, the Senior Minister will designate someone to act on their behalf.

I. Employment Termination

An employee may be separated from employment voluntarily or involuntarily by retirement, resignation, or termination.

Resignation/Retirement: We request that employees who resign their position, or who intend to retire give as much notice as possible, with no less than three weeks considered a minimum courtesy.

Termination: All employees are employed at-will and may be dismissed at any time for any reason.

Benefits upon termination: Information regarding benefits upon termination is included in the Employee Benefits section of this handbook.

Employment conclusion: Before concluding employment, all employees maybe asked to meet with the Administrator.  This meeting includes a review of eligibility for benefit continuation and conversion, ensures that necessary forms are completed, and collects all Church property that may be in the employee’s possession, including assessing the transition plan for electronic files and access.

Exit interview: Persons leaving our employ may be asked to participate in an exit interview with the Head of Staff or someone the Senior Minister designates. The purpose of this interview is to provide employees with an opportunity to discuss their job-related experiences. Information gained from exit interviews is helpful in evaluating working conditions, pointing out personnel problems, and possibly reducing turnover. This interview, though highly encouraged, is voluntary, and does not become part of an employee’s personnel file.

J. Performance Evaluations

All paid staff receive a full evaluation annually, and participate in performance management supervisory meetings at least quarterly.  In each of these conversations, employees are encouraged to share about and reflect on their work experience, in addition to the supervisor’s feedback about their performance.  These evaluation and supervisory meetings are conducted by the employee’s direct supervisor.

A copy of all documents produced as a result of these meetings are given to the employee as well as placed in the employee’s personnel file, which will be held in confidentiality.  Each employee  will be requested to acknowledge the discussion of the written report by signing or initialing the report, and will be encouraged to provide any written comments they deem appropriate.

Employees establish annual goals for their work no later than the end of August each year and are held accountable to the achievement of these goals as a primary feature of their annual evaluation.

An unsatisfactory evaluation may result in the use of a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), wherein their supervisor will communicate the steps required for their performance to meet or exceed the expectations of their job within a specific time frame. Non-compliance with a Performance Improvement Plan will result in disciplinary measures, up to and including termination.   The use of a PIP as a part of communicating expectations is based on the discretion of the employee’s supervisor.

K. Conflict Resolution Procedure

Misunderstandings or conflicts can arise in any organization. To ensure effective working relations, it is important that such matters be resolved before serious problems develop.  Should a situation persist that an employee believes is detrimental to their employment, they should follow the procedure described here for bringing their complaint to the attention of their supervisor. Religious professionals are also encouraged to consult with the Good Officer within their professional association for further guidance and support.

Step One

Discussion of the problem with the person involved in the issue should always be the first step.  Trying to work through a problem one on one is often an effective way to handle conflict resolution. If that does not resolve the concern, or if the issue is with the employee’s supervisor, then the employee may proceed to Step Two.

Step Two

If the problem is not resolved after discussion with the fellow employee, employees should meet with their immediate supervisor to work through the issue. They may also include a minister in those discussions. We encourage employees to strike a balance in ensuring direct communication and employee safety.

Step Three

When this does not bring resolution, employees should follow the process outlined in the Grievance procedure described in this Handbook.

L. Harassment

Foothills Unitarian Church will not tolerate harassment of any kind or violent conduct that affects job performance or benefits, or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Harassment consists of repeated and unwelcome conduct (whether verbal, physical or visual) that is based upon or directed toward a person’s protected status, such as sex, color, race, ancestry, religion, national origin, age, physical handicap, medical condition, disability, marital status, citizenship status, gender identification, sexual orientation or other protected group status.

Sexual harassment deserves special mention. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical, verbal, or visual conduct based on sex, constitute sexual harassment when:submission to the conduct is an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment;submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as the basis for an employment decision; or the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment may include explicit sexual propositions, sexual innuendo, suggestive comments, sexual-oriented “kidding” or “teasing”, “practical jokes”, jokes about gender-specific traits, foul or obscene language or gesture, displays of foul or obscene printed or visual material, and physical contact, such as patting, or brushing against another’s body.

Any employee who believes they has been harassed in violation of these policies should, immediately tell the offender the activity is unwelcome and it should stop immediately. If the activity does not cease or talking to the offender is not appropriate, the employee should report the harassment to his or her immediate supervisor who will consult with the Senior Minister regarding appropriate action.

M.  Reports of Discrimination or Harassment

Employees who have questions about discrimination in the workplace, or who believe our equal opportunity policy has been violated, should report their concerns immediately to the Senior Minister.  When the concerns involve the Senior Minister, employees should refer to the Grievances Procedure below.

N.  Grievances

Members of the staff and the Church are expected to attempt to resolve their concerns with the person most directly involved.  When there is a suspected violation of policy or procedure, however, the person may go directly to the individual’s supervisor.  The supervisor is expected to address the concern with their employee.  When this does not resolve the concern, or in the case of harassment, employees and members should bring their concern directly to the Senior Minister as head of staff, preferably in writing with information about the individuals involved and any witnesses.  The Senior Minister will respond with a decision and appropriate action.

If a complaint is about the Senior Minister, employees can file a grievance directly to the Board of Trustees. Additionally, any staff member who alleges that the Senior Minister’s decision has violated law or Board policy may present their grievance to the Board of Trustees.

All grievances must be submitted in writing to the Board of Trustees.  The Board will conduct an investigation regarding the allegations, and respond in accordance with the values stated in this Handbook as well as Board Policies. All matters submitted to the Board will be resolved within a reasonable time frame, and the resolution described by the Board is considered final.

O.  Whistleblower Protections

The Church prohibits retaliation against employees or other persons who in good faith report legal or ethical concerns. Any employee who suspects that they have experienced retaliation for making a report should immediately inform the Senior Minister. If the retaliation is from the Senior Minister, then the employee should inform the Board of Trustees.

An employee will be reimbursed for job-related expenses under the following conditions:

  1. Approval of the employee’s supervisor or authorized budgetary owner is secured in advance;
  2. Submission of a Request for Payment form within 30 days after the expense was incurred; and
  3. Submission of receipts both for all expenses $25 or over and for all expenses under $25 if available.

Employees with a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance may use their own cars for Church-related business or sanctioned Church activities. The IRS reimbursement rate will apply for mileage to attend out-of-town training or required professional meetings. For all other Church-related travel, employees may deduct such expenses from personal income taxes due, as allowed by the Internal Revenue Service.

Q.  Personnel File

Foothills will maintain a personnel file on each employee.  Employees may review their personnel file upon request and in the presence of authorized personnel.  If an employee is interested in reviewing their file, they should contact the Administrator to make arrangements.

To ensure that personnel files are up-to-date at all times, employees are required to notify the Administrator of any changes in their name, telephone number, home address, marital status, number of dependents, beneficiary designations, scholastic achievements or accreditations, the individuals to notify in case of an emergency, and so forth.

R.  Employment References

All employment verification or reference requests on current or former employees are to be referred to the Administrator. The Administrator will normally release only last title and dates of employment. All other requests for information on current or former employees also are to be referred to the Administrator who will consider and respond to the request, and/or refer them to the Senior Minister.

Requests for employment verification for credit or mortgage purposes should also be referred to the Administrator.  Other information will be provided only if the employee has executed a release.

Updated on September 12, 2018

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