Code of Conduct & Expectations of Employees
A high standard of personal and professional ethical conduct is the responsibility of each staff member. This Code of Conduct does not presume to provide the answers to all ethical questions, but rather establishes a set of general principles and standards. It is expected that all First Parish staff will:
- Understand and be in sympathy with the principles and purposes of Unitarian Universalism.
- Maintain professional and personal integrity.
- Hold to a single standard of respect and help for all members of the First Parish community of whatever age or position, and strive to serve each member of the congregation in an open, impartial, and non‑exploitative manner.
- Respect the traditions of the congregation, enriching and improving these in consultation with the members.
- Strictly respect confidences shared by colleagues and expect them to keep yours.
- Be mindful of power that congregants invest in First Parish employees, and refrain from practices that are harmful to others and endanger one’s integrity and professional effectiveness. Such practices include sexual activity with any child or with an unwilling adult, with a counselee, with a member of the congregation, with the spouse or partner of a person in the congregation, with interns, or any other exploitative relations. In addition, each staff person is expected to be aware of and observe legal requirements of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regarding reporting of physical or sexual misconduct.
- Stand in supportive relation with one another and keep an open mind and heart toward one another.
- Cooperate with one another in supporting the total ministry of the congregation.
- Work for clear delineation of responsibility, accountability, and channels of communication with regard to roles and work responsibilities.
- Exercise leadership within their realm of responsibilities.
- Exercise good stewardship in the use of First Parish’s resources.
- Abide by the professional practice code of the relevant religious leadership organization.
- Ministers are expected to follow the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association’s Guidelines for the Conduct of Ministry (http://www.uuma.org/?page=guidelines).
- Religious education leaders are expected to follow the Liberal Religious Educators Association’s Code of Professional Practices (http://www.lreda.org/code-of-professional-practices).
- The Music Director and Organist are expected to follow the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network’s Code of Professional Practices (http://www.uumn.org/code-of-professional-practices).
- The Organist is expected to follow the American Guild of Organists’ Code of Professional Standards and Code of Ethics (https://www.agohq.org/membership/welcome/).
- The Office Manager is expected to follow the Association of Unitarian Universalist Administrators’ Code of Professional Practices (http://www.uuadmins.org/professionalism/).
Equal Employment Opportunity
First Parish will comply with federal, state and local laws affecting equal employment opportunity. It is First Parish’s policy to employ, retain, promote, terminate, and otherwise treat all employees and job applicants on the basis of merit, qualifications, and competence. This policy shall be applied without regard to any individual’s gender, race, color, national origin, ancestry, pregnancy or pregnancy related conditions, age, marital status, medical condition, disability or other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Nonprofit religious organizations generally may discriminate on the basis of religion. If an employee believes he or she has been subjected to any form or unlawful discrimination, a written complaint should be submitted to their supervisor.
All employees are expected to treat each other with dignity and respect. First Parish prohibits conduct of any kind that disrupts or interferes with another person’s work performance and/or work environment, has the purpose of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities, especially where that conduct could constitute harassment. First Parish expressly prohibits any form of unlawful employee harassment based on race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, marital status, citizenship, real or perceived disability or handicap, genetic predisposition, status as a Vietnam-era veteran, special disabled veteran or other veteran who served on active duty during a war, campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized (campaign badges are awarded to military service members who participate in certain campaigns/expeditions; a full list is available at http://www.opm.gov/veterans/html/vgmedal2.htm), and any other legally protected status in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws.
Prohibited harassment by employees or others includes behavior such as, but not limited to, the following:
- Verbal conduct such as epithets, derogatory comments, jokes or slurs based on an individual’s membership in a protected category
- Threatening or intimidating acts
- Visual conduct, such as derogatory posters, photography, cartoons, screensavers, drawings, or gestures based on an individual’s membership in a protected category
- Visiting Internet sites that could be deemed inappropriate or pornographic by fellow employees. Examples of sites in this category would be ones that contain offensive comments, jokes and/or radical political viewpoints based on a protected category
- Sending e-mails that contain discriminatory and/or harassing content based on a protected category
- Retaliation for making discrimination and/or harassment reports or threatening to report discrimination and/or harassment.
All employees will be held responsible for their actions, and those who violate this policy will be subject to corrective action up to and including termination.
Failure to report claims or observations of discrimination prevents First Parish from taking necessary steps to remedy such situations and exposes the church to formal complaints.
Any employee or parishioner who feels that he/she is a victim of harassment or discrimination is encouraged to report the matter to any staff member, minister, Parish Committee chair, or member of the Human Resources Committee immediately or as soon as possible.
Any supervisor or manager having knowledge of harassment is obligated to immediately report it to the minister and/or the chair (or designee) of the Parish Committee, as well as the Human Resources Committee immediately. Failure to report claims or observations of discrimination prevents First Parish from taking necessary steps to remedy such situations and exposes First Parish to formal complaints.
Sexual harassment is prohibited and will not be tolerated. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment:
- Submission to the conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term of condition of employment
- Submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as a factor in employment decisions affecting the employee
- The conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual’s employment or creates and intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
Some examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Repeated and unwelcome suggestions or invitations to social engagements or social events
- Any indication, expressed or implied, that any aspect of employment conditions, depends, or may depend on the granting of sexual favors or in a willingness to accept or tolerate conduct or communication of a sexual nature
- Unwelcome or coerced physical proximity or physical contact that is of a sexual nature or sexually motivated
- Deliberate use of offensive or demeaning terms that have sexual connotation
- Inappropriate remarks of sexual nature
This policy applies to sexual harassment by members of the same gender as well as different genders.
Any employee or parishioner who feels that he/she is a victim of sexual harassment is encouraged to report the matter to any member of staff, a minister, Parish Committee chair, or a member of the Human Resource committee immediately or as soon as possible.
Any supervisor or manager having knowledge of sexual harassment is obligated to immediately report it to the minister and/or the chair (or designee) of the Parish Committee as well as the Human Resources Committee immediately.
First Parish has a zero-tolerance policy concerning threats, intimidation, and violence of any kind in the workplace either committed by or directed to employees. Employees who engage in such conduct will be disciplined, up to and including termination of employment. If an employee feels he or she has been subjected to threats or threatening conduct by a co-worker, member of the congregation, vendor, customer, or spouse, the employee must immediately or as soon as possible notify his/her supervisor, a minister, or a member of the Parish Committee or Human Resources Committee, so that proper corrective and/or protective action can be taken.
Employees are not permitted to bring weapons of any kind onto First Parish property, including the parking lot, or to First Parish functions. Any employee who is suspected of possessing a weapon will be subject to a search at the discretion of their supervisor, a minister, or a member of the Parish Committee or Human Resources Committee. Such searches may include, but are not limited to, the employee’s personal effects, desk, handbags, purses, backpacks, workspace, and automobile.
Your employment at First Parish constitutes your agreement to never disclose information that is sensitive or personal in nature, except when sharing such information is part of your job function or required for a mandated reporter. Confidential information includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Personal information about members or attendees received through counseling or private conversations
- The size of a pledge or financial donation of a member or attendee
- Compensation data
- Passwords and security codes
If you improperly use or disclose confidential First Parish information, you are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment and legal action.
Absenteeism and Tardiness
Unscheduled, unexcused absences due to injury or illness, even when following appropriate guidelines, may still be deemed excessive. Absences that qualify under the Massachusetts earned sick time law will not be counted as unexcused absences. Discipline for otherwise unexcused tardiness and absenteeism is generally applied as follows: the first two violations result in written warnings; the third, a final written warning; and the fourth, dismissal. Being absent for three or more days without notification or permission (also referred to as a voluntary quit or job abandonment) may result in immediate dismissal.
Employee Membership Policy
An existing employee may choose to become a member of First Parish without compromising his or her continued employment or eligibility for future positions that may open up. All employees are expected to maintain a productive and respectful employee/employer relationship. In all cases in which an employee is also a member of First Parish, that person’s first responsibilities are as a staff member. The employee is expected to abide by the code of conduct as stated in this Employee Handbook.
Conflict of Interest
No First Parish employee or minister shall be a voting member of any First Parish committee. This policy is not intended to exclude an employee or minister from participating in committee deliberations or from serving in a non‑voting professional advisory capacity to such committee.
No immediate family member of an employee or minister shall serve on the Parish Committee, the Finance Committee, or a committee with supervisory responsibility relative to the said employee.