Recent Supreme Court Case Could Impact Your Church

The recent Supreme Court ruling that barred restrictions put on religious services in New York put in place to combat the spread of coronavirus may effect houses of worship everywhere.

The United States Supreme Court said in this most recent ruling that the Constitution does not take a holiday during the pandemic; in some ways, those rights are more important and more necessary than ever,” said legal analyst Dan Eaton.

This ruling gives new hope to all churches hoping to be able to meet indoors with no limitations. Legal experts say the new ruling doesn’t mean churches can do whatever they want. They will still have to follow local public health guidelines, but it might make politicians ease up on restrictions on houses of worship to avoid legal challenges.

We are not providing any legal opinion; we recommend you work with your attorney before any action is taken. This is to be considered informational only.

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Remote Workers And Workers” Compensation

2020 and COVID-19 have changed the way we think about remote working. Most businesses are having employees work from home, and even if there is a vaccine, the work from home trend is likely to continue well into 2021. A PWC survey on US remote working found that 55% of executives believe that most of their employees will continue working remotely at least one day a week post-pandemic. 

A Remote Work Policy Might Include:

  • Work hours
  • Equipment used
  • Time management
  • Define the scope of work
  • Designated work area
  • Proof of presence in the work area

How Does Worker’ Compensation Apply To Remote Workers?

In general, employees are covered for work-related injuries that occur outside the office or other workplaces. Generally, employers are still responsible for injuries that occur during a detour, such as when an employee physically departs from his or her job duties that is considered minor activity, getting coffee, etc.

Some questions that will determine whether an injury is a work-related include:

  • Was the employer benefiting from the employee’s actions when the injury occurred?
  • Did the employer require the employee to engage in the injury-causing activity?
  • Did the employer approve the off-site activity in advance?

While employers cannot completely eliminate safety hazards in a home office setting, just as they cannot in the traditional office setting, employers should enforce good risk management practices to ensure those home office workplaces are as safe as possible.

Finding and buying the insurance that meets the unique needs of your business can be easy when you work with the experienced team at our agency. We understand that your business is one of a kind and needs specific protection.

Call us to speak with one of our agents or complete our online quote form. Please have your current policies available when you call.

Additional References

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How To Manage A Property Loss

Church Insurance Update

Most churches owns business property, which may include the building in which you run your operations.  Property insurance protects the physical assets your business owns – such as computers, office equipment, buildings, furniture, fixtures, and other property.  Every business should have a comprehensive property insurance portfolio to respond to the many risks associated with property ownership.

We hope to help you indemnify a proactive plan in the event of a fire, theft, storm, or some other kind of damage that might involve your business insurance policy.  There are a number of actions you can do to help get the best possible settlement from the insurance company.

Pre-Loss Practices

  • Maintain vital records
  • Have photos of all buildings, major equipment, etc
  • Blueprints- keep complete sets
  • Keep at least 5 to 10 years of financial records
  • Appoint key individuals as communicators
  • Have emergency response plan
  • Secondary locations identified

During The Loss

  • Notify the insurer
  • Protect the property
  • Track claim costs
  • Separate budget line items
  • Keep records of all internal and external costs
  • Make temporary repairs
  • If you hire contractors or consultants you might want to get the insurers approval, if you want the costs covered under insurance
  • Meet regularly with the agent and Insurer
  • List and address key issues and concerns
  • Note any changes from original design
  • Will you rebuild or not?
  • What might cause delays?

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Why Check Backgrounds?

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Thorough background checks should be part of your ministry’s programs. Choosing the right provider and services can be tricky, because when it comes to background screening, the saying “you get what you pay for” is often true. Some searches may fit nicely into a ministry’s budget, but they don’t provide the same depth of information that a more comprehensive check will uncover

When it comes to background screening, be sure to choose a reputable provider. Brotherhood Mutual feels confident working with the following companies:

  • Safe Hiring Solutions offers comprehensive background screening options, including pre-employment and volunteer screening packages. VisitSafe Hiring Solutions website to determine what level of screening best fits your ministry’s needs.
  • Protect My Ministry is another reputable provider of background screening services. The company specializes in helping ministries implement and maintain a thorough background screening program for employees, staff, and volunteers. Check out Protect My Ministry online to learn more.
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Selecting and Screening Volunteers

In today’s busy world, churches and schools rely on volunteers more than ever. It’s important to not only select the right volunteers for the right jobs, but to also screen your volunteers. While it may seem like mission impossible, with some planning and organization, your church or school can develop a robust volunteer program.

Selecting Volunteers Takes Coordination

Many churches and schools have someone who acts as a volunteer coordinator. This central point of contact can help with recruiting volunteers because people know who they can speak with if they have a desire to serve or a question about serving. Like many ministries, The Chapel, a multi-campus church in the Akron, Ohio, area, relies heavily on volunteers. Having someone who serves as a single point of contact is an important aspect of selecting volunteers. “This central role really serves as a liaison, a friendly face folks can come to with thoughts, questions, or concerns,” said Jamie Fuller, servant coordinator at The Chapel in Green, the church’s Uniontown, Ohio, campus. 

The coordinator develops a keen sense for the personality types that have a desire to serve. Several traits evident in a good volunteer include being, “humble, teachable, committed, and flexible. A good volunteer is someone who wants to use their gifts to enhance the kingdom and to advance the ministry’s mission,” reflected Fuller.

Serving Covenant Protects Ministry

When selecting volunteers, it’s important that they understand the moral obligations of serving in your ministry. One way to communicate that is through a serving covenant. “This covenant clearly states expectations and what it means to serve at The Chapel,” said Fuller. A serving covenant outlines the ministry’s doctrine and what is morally right and expected as a volunteer. “It serves as a protection for our volunteers and for us, especially when we run into a situation where we’re forced to ask a volunteer to step down,” remarked Fuller.

Screening Best Practices

After selecting and matching a volunteer to a role, it’s critically important to perform a thorough screening. The screening process is a necessary step to protect the safety of everyone involved with your ministry, especially children and youth.  

The screening process varies depending on the type of role the volunteer will fill. In the church setting, greater levels of screening should be performed on volunteers who interact or work with children, youth, or vulnerable adults. Other volunteers, such as those in a greeter ministry, wouldn’t necessarily receive the same level of screening. However, in the school setting, there are very few instances where a school wouldn’t perform a full background screening. To protect your ministry and your volunteers, ministries should implement the following steps every time a volunteer will work directly with children or youth.

  1. Written application with at least two references unrelated to the volunteer. The key component with any written application is gathering the necessary information to verify truthfulness and to gain insight into a person’s character.
  2. Reference check and interview. It’s important to interview the references included in the application. This helps make sure you have an accurate representation of the volunteer’s character.
  3. Personal interview with volunteer. The interview ensures the volunteer is qualified and is an opportunity to clarify any information they’ve included in the application. It also serves as an opportunity to clarify any information uncovered during the reference check.
  4. Criminal background screen. 
  • A background check should go beyond a national criminal database and sex offender registry search to include social security number verification and a local county criminal records search.  If any volunteer is going to drive, a bureau of motor vehicles check should also be performed. 
  • Not all background checks are created equal. Ministries should expect to pay about $10-$20 for a volunteer background check. This generally ensures that you’re getting a check of local and national databases. It’s also important to not rely solely on a criminal records check. It’s simply one component of a thorough screening process. To help ministries make an informed decision, SafeHiring Solutions offers, “10 Things to Know Before Selecting a Background Screening Firm.”
  • Schools rely on many volunteers and screening them may be cost prohibitive. Schools can request volunteers to pay for their own background check. This not only removes the financial burden, but it helps ensure you’re getting committed volunteers. 

A thorough screening process protects churches and schools, but it does so much more. “With thorough screening as part of our policies and procedures, there is a peace in knowing that there’s a process and it’s supported by the team. It’s intentional and having multiple steps makes you feel good knowing that you weren’t careless, and you had a plan to protect the ministry,” remarked Fuller.  

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Are Board Members Personally Liable for Board Decisions?

Church board members have been placed in a position of trust, and they have a legal responsibility to place the church’s interests ahead of their own. This duty is known as their fiduciary responsibility. If board members use their position in the church for personal gain, they can be sued as individuals, thereby placing their home and personal assets at risk. But the same laws that protect corporate board members in the secular world can also help protect ministry board members who are acting in good faith. CMI can provide your church with insurance protection.

The protection offered to board members of incorporated organizations can apply to liability arising out of injuries, contractual obligations, and other forms of liability created by statute. Consider these as part of your bylaws.

  • Prohibit board members from obtaining any personal gain at the church’s expense
  • Bar the church from doing business with companies that will benefit board members or members of their immediate family.
  • Limit terms of board member
  • Provide training for board members
  • Board members should not have sole responsibility for financial review and authority.

Members of the church governing board are responsible for guiding the church and helping the ministry fulfill its mission. Board members are held to a higher standard of accountability than others in the congregation. By placing the interests of the church above their own, they will not only better serve the church, but can also protect themselves from legal liability, fines and other out-of-pocket loss.

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How We Can Help With Payroll Processing

MinistryWorks payroll processing and tax filing services were designed by Brotherhood Mutual to offer churches an affordable, ministry-specific option and ease the administrative burden.

MinistryWorks is available nationwide, so now is the time to talk to your clients and prospects about payroll services.

As you do, you may encounter questions related to four of the most common pain points we’ve heard about. These talking points have been developed to help you formulate your thoughts and respond in your own words.

Pain point #1 – Cost

MinistryWorks customers save 20-50 percent over comparable tax and payroll services. There is no conversion fee with MinistryWorks. We’re focused on offering ministry-friendly pricing.

What’s the catch?

There’s no catch. Our pricing is lower than competitors because we wanted to develop a payroll option for ministries that doesn’t “break the bank.” Our pricing was structured with that goal in mind.

Pain point #2 – Compliance

Clergy and ministry tax laws are unique. Most churches handling payroll in-house don’t realize the compliance issues they face, and payroll providers that don’t specialize in ministry payroll often make errors, as well. Approximately half of our MinistryWorks customers who’ve used other payroll providers said that before switching to MinistryWorks

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Develop A Volunteer Safety And Security Team

It can be challenging to build a safety and security ministry based on volunteers, but it can be done. By following this five-step process, you can create a volunteer force that sustains itself and provides fulfillment to the individuals who give their time and energy to make it a success.

  • Identify the team – Strong people skills, observant, good judgement, possible law enforcement experience.
  • Recruit – Meet face to face. Make sure your prospective volunteer knows that an application process involving a criminal background check is required.
  • Train – Generally, safety and security training involves both individual and group activities. You’ll need to explain your church’s policy and guidelines for dealing with different types of security needs domestic violence versus teenage pranks, for example.
  • Deploy – This step deploys your new volunteer to his or her area of responsibility. On the first deployment, it’s important to check in at regular intervals and see how your new volunteer is doing.
  • Manage – Try not to allow volunteers’ excitement about their ministry get the best of them. If team members serve every weekend for all services and extra events during the week, that excitement can fade quickly. It will be replaced by burnout, fatigue, discouragement, and even spiritual exhaustion.

For more information, click here

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Which Facilities Maintenance Type are You?

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Maintenance is what we do to keep our facilities and equipment functioning as intended. It is the process of increasing the use of a building by regularly servicing major systems, equipment, and areas inside and outside a building. If you own ANY property, facility, equipment, vehicle, etc., you perform maintenance.

Having served the church facility world for nearly 35 years, I believe there are four types of maintenance that are prevalent or should be considered when developing an intentional facility stewardship plan. Maintenance can be proactive or reactive. It can save you money or simply keep your doors open. A lack of maintenance is likely to increase your costs down the road.

Maintenance Type #1: Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance is probably the most common and most prevalent type of maintenance in a facility maintenance plan. It is the “break/fix” work that we do daily such as an overflowed commode, a burned-out light bulb, or an HVAC system that is not cooling in August. Corrective maintenance is needed when something fails or is not working as intended. This type of maintenance is inevitable and inescapable. Things break. Things wear out. Moving parts cease to move. Life cycles are exceeded (more on this later) and items have reached the end of their reasonable useful life.

While corrective maintenance is a daily part of any facility operations, there are ways to mitigate these unexpected repairs that impact both time and cost. When our teams are consumed performing corrective maintenance, they do not have the time to be proactive. This kind of reactive method of managing and maintaining a facility is like a hamster on a wheel. It never stops. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Maintenance Type #2: Preventive Maintenance

In my opinion, preventive maintenance may be the most important type of maintenance your church should be performing…hands down!

Preventive maintenance is your proactive approach to facility management. It is looking into the future and making intentional plans for addressing maintenance that will extend the life of your equipment and facilities. It reduces the potential of downtime and the need for reactive corrective maintenance. Regularly performed maintenance on a piece of equipment still working well lessens the likelihood of it failing. If you are looking to save money, then adding preventive maintenance is one of the best ways to ensure you stay on top of your facility needs and mitigate a large portion of corrective maintenance.

Any time the Apostle Paul in the New Testament says, “Do this,” he often follows it with a, “so that.” Facilities managers need to make sure staff and volunteers understand why they are being asked to maintain a piece of equipment. For example, monthly filter changes on our air conditioners help keep the units running at optimum condition and provide a clean environment for congregants. Moving away from a task-oriented mindset to a “so that” mindset helps change the perspective of the importance of preventive maintenance.

Maintenance Type #3: Predictive Maintenance

We understand corrective maintenance because we all do it, and most of us at least know we should be planning and conducting preventive maintenance. But what is predictive maintenance?

Predictive maintenance uses condition-monitoring equipment to evaluate an asset’s performance in real-time. A key element in this process is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT allows for different assets and systems to connect, work together, and share data. Some examples of predictive maintenance include temperature sensors, water sensors, vibration analysis, oil analysis, thermal imaging, and equipment observation.

For example, if your water heater fails, a leak-detection sensor would send a warning to you so that you could go check on this BEFORE it flooded your ministry. Brotherhood Mutual has partnered with Notion to offer their smart sensors to ministries. The sensors can monitor for temperature, water, sound, and movement. These sensors are easy to install and monitor for small problems. That way, you can prevent them from becoming major disasters.

I believe that as we move more toward incorporating IoT devices in our church facilities, we will see the huge advantage of predictive maintenance.

Maintenance Type #4: Deferred Maintenance

Deferred maintenance isn’t really maintenance. It is just a term we use to say we did NOT perform the maintenance we should have. The result is a ministry facility that has not been properly maintained, cared for, or stewarded.

According to David Tod Geaslin’s Inverse-Square Rule for Deferred Maintenance, “If a necessary repair is deferred and allowed to remain in service until the next level of failure, the resultant expense will be square of the cost of the primary failure part.”* This means that ignoring a $10 part when it fails will cost you $100 when the next part fails.

This reiterates my earlier point that planning and preventive maintenance along with properly funding your annual maintenance accounts in the ministry budget is much cheaper than letting things get deferred.

Read more about deferred maintenance in Brotherhood Mutual’s Safety Library.

Maintenance Planning Software

Planning your maintenance is a great way to avoid falling into the trap of deferred maintenance. It’s easy to get distracted, and before you know it, your regular maintenance, like caulking windows or changing filters, turns into larger, costlier issues.  A very effective way to plan your maintenance is to use some type of system that works for you. It could be a spreadsheet, online document, or a purpose-built software program like Smart Church Solutions’ eSPACE.

Maintain and Steward Your Facility

If you are looking to improve your facility stewardship plan and proactive facility maintenance, then do ALL you can to eliminate deferred maintenance listed above and seek ways to be more intentional with preventing maintenance and predicting problems. Your facility and budget will thank you!

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Promote Workplace Safety

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Workplace safety is the responsibility of every business owner; it should be your top priority. Keeping employees safe is critical to creating a healthy work environment that they will enjoy working in. It also makes sense to ensure that your safe and healthy workplace is meeting standards with regard to local regulations.

Here are a few tips to help your business promote workplace safety

  • Set standards for all employees to follow.
  • Educate and train your employees.
  • Publish safety reports and accident prevention tips.
  • Hold safety meetings on a regular basis.
  • Have employees involved in the development of the safety program. Employees should have a seat on the safety committee.
  • It is important to reward success. If you have a period of time with no accidents, hold a party.
  • Track performance, and if certain employees keep repeating poor behavior, make it part of their employee performance review.
  • Require employees to follow safe work practices.
  • Provide the right tools and safety equipment.
  • Reward safety awareness. Things like small gifts for outstanding workplace safety can encourage your employees to be more vigilant and dedicated to keeping themselves, their co-workers, and their place of employment safe.

Regardless of what type of business you are in, securing workers’ compensation insurance should be an integral part of your business plan, particularly as a small business owner. In today’s litigious society, your company or organization cannot afford to live without workers’ compensation. We can steer your business in the right direction when it comes to deciding on a plan that is best suited for your needs. As a result, your company or organization will be confident and better prepared to face the challenges of doing business in the 21st century.

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Church Security

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More ministries are forming security teams. That’s raising insurance coverage questions. Will team members be covered individually for lawsuits caused by a security incident? Does your insurance cover an armed security team? What special coverages do you need to adequately cover your security team? 

Brotherhood Mutual’s Security Operations Liability Coverage addresses these insurance needs specifically for emergency response incidents. It includes:

  • Primary coverage for team members
  • Coverage for damage to or loss of security-related equipment
  • Increased medical payment and wage loss limits
  • Individual and family counseling benefit for team members
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Preventing Frozen Pipes in Ministry Buildings

By insulating pipes and being careful during severe, freezing weather, your ministry can avoid joining the half-million homes and businesses damaged each year by frozen pipes.

Freezing cold weather can cause pipes to burst and flood your building. Here are some last-minute prevention tips to keep your ministry’s pipes from falling victim when an icy blast hits your area.

TURN UP THE HEAT. Keep building temperature above 55 degrees. You may need to raise the thermostat setting to keep it there.

PROP OPEN DOORS. Open cabinet doors beneath sinks and prop building doors open to maintain heat in cooler parts of a building.

LET FAUCETS DRIP. Leaving taps slightly open keeps water moving, making it less likely to freeze inside pipes during extreme cold spells.

INSPECT BASEMENTS AND ATTICS. Many frozen pipes happen in basements, crawl spaces, and attics, where insulation may be poor. Fit exposed pipes with foam sleeves and squirt insulating foam into any gaps or cracks letting in cold air.

PREP THE GENERATOR.  A reliable energy source can help you maintain heat in the building, even if a big freeze takes down power lines.
 

WHO SHOULD YOU CALL?

Make sure you have the following phone numbers on hand in case of a building emergency:   

  • Plumber
  • Water Restoration Company
  • Heating Contractor
  • Electrician
  • Utility Company
  • General Contractor
  • Insurance Agent or Company
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