Part of being a healthy church is having volunteer labor. Ideally, that looks like people in the congregation using their varied gifts in works of service. Sometimes it’s just people getting stuff done because it needs to get done. The reality is that not that many people have the spiritual gift of working in the nursery.
We need volunteers and it is good for people to volunteer both in areas that bring them great joy and in areas that feel hard and sacrificial. Sometimes, however, a person cannot legally volunteer in an area where they feel gifted and find joy in service.
Those people are your employees. While they canvolunteer for some ministries, they cannotvolunteer in an area related to their employment. For example, the administrative assistant should not be making copies for people on Sunday morning and the custodian is on the clock if he is setting up chairs or cleaning rooms when you are done.
So when is a volunteer is not a volunteer? When they are doing the job that they are normally paid to do. The admin can volunteer in Sunday School. The custodian can be part of the worship team. They just can’t volunteer for their regular jobs. It’s not that they can’t dotheir jobs outside of their regular work hours. You just need to pay them if they do. Including overtime if working outside of their regular hours puts them over 40 in a week.
The Department of Labor probably made this law because some employers might try to take advantage of employees who would be willing to work off the clock or might even pressure employees to do so. It’s a good law that protects employees. The church would not knowingly act like one of those ugly employers who oppress employees. More likely, our employees would want to put in more hours because they are so committed to the ministry.
We do need to protect them – from unknowing congregants who just assume they can do this one little thing, or from leaders who really need something that only they can do, or from themselves and their willingness to serve because that is just who they are. Enough of any one of those things eventually will lead to bitterness or burnout.
Encourage employees to volunteer. Just be sure that their volunteer work is not the same thing that you pay them for during the work day.