SIDEBAR: Are You Prepared to Dismiss Someone?


by Jeff Hanna


A Checklist To Use Before You Let Someone Go

A church rarely expects it will have to let an employee go, but the need may arise, either because of poor performance or because of economic pressures. Below is a general checklist to review before starting the process of ending someone’s employment with your church.

Observation

  1. Do we make it a policy to document all issues concerning personnel?
    Yes ___ No ___
  2. Do we have a personnel manual that all employees must read and sign?
    Yes ___ No ___
  3. Are we aware there are differences as to how we can and should dismiss clergy versus nonclergy employees?
    Yes ___ No ___
  4. Do we have a system that documents performance and warnings in writing as part of the employee’s records?
    Yes ___ No ___
  5. Do we, as a church, have an attorney we can seek advice from regarding employment, dismissal, and other legal matters?
    Yes ___ No ___
  6. Do we always have a clear plan to execute regarding the dismissal 
of an employee?
    Yes ___ No ___
  7. Do we assess the potential for physical harm, and have we taken steps to protect church leaders and other staff? Y
    es ___ No ___
  8. Do we utilize a second person present anytime we must fire an employee?
    Yes ___ No ___
  9. Do we utilize a signed severance letter stating the actions necessary on the part of the dismissed employee?
    Yes ___ No ___
  10. Do we always escort the dismissed employee as they collect their belongings and walk out of the building?
    Yes ___ No ___
  11. Do we make it a point to immediately collect the employee’s keys and any other church-owned property they have in their 
possession?
    Yes ___ No ___
  12. Do we consider the best approach to notify other staff and the congregation as to details surrounding the dismissal, and has the church’s attorney reviewed those details?
    Yes ___ No ___
  13. Are we consistent across the board in our written warning and dismissal 
policies?
    Yes ___ No ___
  14. Do we make sure we incorporate prayer into the entire process?
    Yes ___ No ___

JEFF HANNA is a former undercover detective and United Methodist pastor. This article appears in “Dismissing Employees and Volunteers,” a downloadable training resource available on ChurchSafety.com. ChurchSafety.com is an innovative Web site created by Christianity Today International and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company in response to the growing need for safety and security resources designed specifically for churches. Copyright © 2009 Christianity Today International.