FLSA and Church Employees who Volunteer.

In an offline discussion with a Vibrance reader I’ve learned of yet another church faced with the inconvenience (that may be too soft a word for it) of applying the recently-revised Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA)  to those employed by the church. 

It’s a double-blessing in a very real way to have people who work at the church all week turn right around and volunteer.  I know the law protects individuals from having to “volunteer” outside the normal work week because someone on staff thinks that would be the most convenient, but there’s a growing difference of opinion as to whether or not the law can prevent church employees from volunteering their time in a manner they choose.

  • Can a building and operations team member volunteer to teach Sunday School? 
  • Can the Director of Children’s Ministries play in the church’s volunteer orchestra? 
  • Can an administrative assistant volunteer skills and abilities adjacent to weekly paid efforts? 
  • What lines have to be drawn?  What documents need to be signed and filed away?

Compliance is once thing, but to be stifled in ministry is quite another!

How has your church addressed this concern? If it’s your church’s opinion that it does fall under the FLSA umbrella, how does it address the desire of those who work AND volunteer at First Church?    I doubt it’s as simple as having a couple of badges made up –

* I’m WORKING till 4:00 Today.     * I’m VOLUNTEERING now.

Something tells me this concern is going to grow rather than diminish.  Can you point Vibrance readers to helpful sources? (not as legal counsel or anything, just point to helpful materials)  Thanks for your help!   


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