Pastor, Church & Law

Individual Coverage

§ 08.08.02

Key Point 8-08.02. The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that employers pay the minimum wage, and overtime compensation, to employees who are engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. There is no exception for religious organizations, but there are exceptions for certain classifications of employees.

Even when there is no enterprise coverage, employees are protected by the FLSA if their work regularly involves them in commerce between states (“interstate commerce”). The FLSA covers individual workers who are “engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.”

Examples of employees who are involved in interstate commerce include those who produce goods (such as a secretary typing letters in an office) that will be sent out-of-state, regularly make telephone calls to persons located in other states, handle records of interstate transactions, travel to other states on their jobs, and do janitorial work in buildings where goods are produced for shipment outside the state.

The Department of Labor Field Operations Handbook describes individual coverage as follows:

Individual coverage depends on the nature of the particular employee’s work. An employee is covered on an individual basis in each workweek in which he or she performs any work constituting engagement in interstate or foreign commerce. … As a practical matter [the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor] does not assert individual coverage over an employee who is ordinarily engaged in employment which is not so covered but who may on isolated occasions spend an insubstantial amount of time performing individually covered work. However, this rule is not applicable in any workweek in which an employee spends a substantial amount of time doing individually covered work. If, in viewing the employment over a more extended period, it is apparent that the pattern of individual coverage is regular and recurrent, the employee involved is so covered in each workweek in which he does such work, regardless of whether the amount of time spent in this work is substantial or insubstantial.

It is not possible to establish precise guidelines to be followed in determining whether an employee who is not otherwise covered on an individual basis spends an insubstantial amount of time on isolated occasions in the performance of individually covered work. In view of the remedial purposes of the Act, the application of this rule is limited to circumstances where the time consumed by an employee in doing such covered work is obviously trivial, and the incidence of this covered work is so infrequent and outofpattern that it would be unrealistic to assert individual coverage solely on such grounds. This must be decided on the facts in a particular case.30 Field Operations Handbook § 11a01.

The Department of Labor Field Operations Handbook addresses the individual coverage of several categories of employees under the FLSA. The only one relevant to church staff would be “clerical” employees. Section 11c00 of the Field Operations Handbook states:

Office and clerical employees who are engaged in the sending and receiving of out-of-state remittances, letters, bills, contracts, etc. or whose work involves the regular and recurrent use of the interstate mails, telephone, telegraph, and similar agencies of communication across state lines, are engaged in interstate commerce. … Those who not only transmit, but also prepare letters, bills, contracts, and other papers which are sent out of the state, are actually engaged in the production of goods for interstate commerce.

Regulations adopted by the Department of Labor state:

The Act makes no distinction as to the percentage, volume, or amount of activities of either the employee or the employer which constitute engaging in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. However, an employee whose incommerce or production activities are isolated, sporadic, or occasional and involve only insubstantial amounts of goods will not be considered “engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce” by virtue of that fact alone. The law is settled that every employee whose activities in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, even though small in amount are regular and recurring, is considered “engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce”.31 29 C.F.R. 779.109.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

ajax-loader-largecaret-downcloseHamburger Menuicon_amazonApple PodcastsBio Iconicon_cards_grid_caretChild Abuse Reporting Laws by State IconChurchSalary Iconicon_facebookGoogle Podcastsicon_instagramLegal Library IconLegal Library Iconicon_linkedinLock IconMegaphone IconOnline Learning IconPodcast IconRecent Legal Developments IconRecommended Reading IconRSS IconSubmiticon_select-arrowSpotify IconAlaska State MapAlabama State MapArkansas State MapArizona State MapCalifornia State MapColorado State MapConnecticut State MapWashington DC State MapDelaware State MapFederal MapFlorida State MapGeorgia State MapHawaii State MapIowa State MapIdaho State MapIllinois State MapIndiana State MapKansas State MapKentucky State MapLouisiana State MapMassachusetts State MapMaryland State MapMaine State MapMichigan State MapMinnesota State MapMissouri State MapMississippi State MapMontana State MapMulti State MapNorth Carolina State MapNorth Dakota State MapNebraska State MapNew Hampshire State MapNew Jersey State MapNew Mexico IconNevada State MapNew York State MapOhio State MapOklahoma State MapOregon State MapPennsylvania State MapRhode Island State MapSouth Carolina State MapSouth Dakota State MapTennessee State MapTexas State MapUtah State MapVirginia State MapVermont State MapWashington State MapWisconsin State MapWest Virginia State MapWyoming State IconShopping Cart IconTax Calendar Iconicon_twitteryoutubepauseplay