Overtime & Dues

I came across some FAQs that were developed from a webinar about the new overtime laws that the Department of Labor recently sponsored for not-for-profit organizations. The bottom line is this: as of 12/1/2016, synagogue full time employees who are considered white-collar employees who are earning less than $47,476 ($913 weekly) are entitled to overtime pay (time and a half) for work beyond 40 hours in any given week. Teachers and administrative staff such as secretaries are not included in this classification of “white collar” employees.

If the synagogue office manager whose pay is $40,000 has to work 4 hours extra one evening to prepare a billing and his/her hours that week total 44, the office manager is entitled to 4 hours of overtime pay. If the synagogue’s Director of Youth Engagement whose salary is $36,000 accompanies members of the youth group to a Shabbat weekend retreat and that week works an extra 15 hours, he/she is entitled to be paid 15 hours of overtime pay.

Comp time will not substitute for overtime pay. It only applies to employees at public agencies. Once an employee’s total salary reaches $47,476, the new overtime rules no longer apply.

So you should determine who among your synagogue’s employees will be covered by this new law. You should keep track of their hours each week. The work has to be completed, so weeks where people work more than 40 hours may be hard to avoid.

Maybe you can ask everyone after the High Holy Days to add $50 or $100 to their dues to cover the anticipated overtime. Or maybe the change in the labor laws that will directly impact the synagogue’s budget can be mentioned in the High Holy Day Appeal.

Speaking of dues, the Conservative Movement recently completed a study regarding the voluntary dues model. Only 53 of the 295 synagogues that participated in the study are using this financial model. And 20 of the 53 synagogues indicated an overall dues revenue increase, primarily in the 2-5% range, but as high as 10%.

The concluding paragraph of the article also speaks to the need for synagogues to be growing their endowment funds. Dues revenue growth of 5% won’t have significant impact on the budget. If dues are generating $1 million, that is $50,000. An increase of 20-25 families paying full dues generates a similar amount. An endowment fund of $1 million also generates $50,000.

So every million added to the Endowment Fund adds another $50,000. Growing the endowment fund through a comprehensive campaign has the most immediate impact. Even over time – 15-20 years – through a planned giving effort is the next best thing.

Whether it be dues or an endowment campaign, engaging congregants beyond conversations about money is paramount. New financial models about dues are nice. Similar studies that highlight best practices for synagogue engagement throughout the continuum of adulthood synagogue involvement would be most helpful.

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