Lay employee census conclusions

Through Resolution A125 the 75th General Convention “authorize[d] and request[ed] the Church Pension Group to conduct a survey of lay employees concentrating on employee demographics, the exercise of authority in the employment setting, and compensation and benefits. The Bishop or other ecclesiastical authority of each diocese shall be requested to supply relevant data for each employing unit in the diocese to the Church Pension Group.” The CPG has concluded this survey/census and draws the following conclusions:

• The Episcopal Church has a highly motivated group of lay employees with a strong sense of mission and service to the Church.

• There is a high level of anxiety about the future, particularly among those who rely most on the Church for retirement income. These include single, divorced, and widowed women, a group that, in the wider population, is most likely to experience poverty in old age.

This anxiety about the future negatively affects the lay employees’ sense of satisfaction with and engagement in their work.

• Lay employees value the Church as a work environment that provides a sense of flexibility and that has people in it who care about them personally.

• In terms of the formal structures of employment, such as the correct assignment of employees into exempt and non-exempt from overtime compensation classifications, the creation or updating of job descriptions, and annual performance evaluations, the record of the Church as a whole is poor.

These weak formal employment practices of the Church gradually erode the sense of mission and joy that lay employees receive from their work.

• Lay employee pension benefits are already provided to the employees in 80% of the domestic dioceses and to 67% of the employees working for the largest domestic congregations through one provider — the Church Pension Group.

• A review of the plan documents and the summary plan descriptions that were submitted by the dioceses and parishes who are not participating in a Church Pension Group lay pension plan did not reveal any significant features that are not already part of the Church Pension Group’s lay pension plans.

• The lay pension plans sponsored by other providers by and large comply with the provisions of Resolution D165(a) of the 70th General Convention.

• Mandating lay employee pension benefits through the passage of a canon will allow The Episcopal Church to assume a leadership role among the other major Christian denominations in the United States.

The estimated average annual cost to provide lay pension benefits for those lay employees who currently do not have these benefits ranges from $34.00 to $12.00 per pledging unit, depending on the size of the congregation. The average annual cost across the Church is approximately $20.00 per pledging unit.

The average annual cost to provide lay pension benefits for those lay employees who currently do not have these benefits is less than 1.0% of the Church’s operating revenue.

Emphasis added.

Regarding compliance with Resolution D165(a) of the 70th General Convention which required pension benefits for any lay employee:

While the census data revealed a high degree of compliance at the diocesan level with Resolution D165(a) of the 70th General Convention which required pension benefits for any lay employee:

• who is 21 years of age or older, and

• who works 1,000 or more hours annually, and

• who has been employed by his/her employer for at least one year,

the compliance with Resolution D165(a) is less satisfactory at the congregational level.

Approximately 93% of diocesan employees who work 20 or more hours per week and who have been employed for a minimum of one year have employer-provided pension benefits. In contrast, only 70% of lay employees who work 20 or more hours per week in a congregational setting and who have been employed for a minimum of one year have employer-provided pension benefits. This means that approximately 30% of the lay employees working in congregational settings who meet the eligibility criteria of Resolution D165(a) do not receive the lay pension benefits contemplated by that resolution more than 15 years after its passage.

Further, while the compliance rate with Resolution D165(a) increases based on the hours a lay employee works per week, even at the highest level, 40 hours or more per week, approximately 18% of the lay employees who have been employed by a congregation for a minimum of one year are not provided lay pension benefits.

Emphasis in the original.

The full report is here. Members of the CPG also received a brief on the report in the March 2009 Perspective. Nonmembers would not have.

This came through on today’s Faith in Public Life News Reel:

Labor Agency Is Failing Workers, Report Says

By Steven Greenhouse – New York Times

The federal agency charged with enforcing minimum wage, overtime and many other labor laws is failing in that role, leaving millions of workers vulnerable, Congressional auditors have found.

(Read More)

Category : The Lead

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One Comment
  1. John B. Chilton

    A165 “required” lay pensions. 15 years later not all dioceses and congregations are in compliance. CPG is recommending a mandate to gain 100% compliance. I’m not sure of the difference between required and mandated.

    I am sure that a mandate would be harmful to _some_ of the uncovered laypersons. The reason is that one way to comply is to eliminate the position or downgrade it to a part time position.

    The same is true in the wider example of government mandates like the minimum wage. Some workers gain, others lose their jobs.

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