A Threat to Church Employment Policies
A Threat to Church Employment Policies
Churches must provide 'consideration' for policy changes—or else jeopardize their validity.

Most churches have adopted employment policies, either in a policy manual or as individual policies. Examples include policies addressing:

employee standards
social media
cell phone usage
expense reimbursements
personnel files
safety and security
compensation and benefits
discipline and dismissal
intellectual property
conflicts of interest
leaves of absence

For many churches, policies change. Additions and modifications are common. Church leaders often assume that additions and changes automatically apply to current as well as future employees. But this often will not be the case, due to a fundamental requirement of contract law called "consideration." In order for a contract to be enforceable, each party must receive something of value ("consideration") in exchange for his or her commitment. To illustrate, if X and Y enter into a contract for the sale of X's home, the consideration for X's commitment to sell the home is the price to be paid by Y. And, the consideration for Y's promise to pay the purchase price is the home itself. The requirement of consideration is what distinguishes contracts from gifts. In a gift, the recipient receives the benefit of the donated property without any value provided in return to the donor.

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Posted: August 26, 2014
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