Church Music Dublin strongly recommends that current best practice in the community, voluntary and charities sector should be followed when appointing to the position of organist / choir director and in regard to remuneration.
The Charities Act, 2009 is now in force and, as a consequence, parish clergy and other members of church governing committees are deemed to be ‘charity trustees’. This brings with it a responsibility to operate in accord with contemporary standards of governance and transparency; and to comply with statutory and revenue requirements.
The position should be publicly advertised. This usually will be done through the media of church magazines, schools of music, organ teachers and the local community. If, following the stated closing date, no appointment is made, it is good practice to re-advertise publicly, while the search for a musician continues.
The person appointed should be given an employment contract or a letter of appointment. Organists and choir directors should request such documentation, which usually will cover the following matters, and maybe other items:
● Date of commencement
● Person to whom the musician reports (In the case of Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic parishes, this always is the rector / priest-in-charge / parish priest)
● Responsibilities – number of services and choir rehearsals and related matters
● Basic remuneration
● Remuneration for additional duties
● Annual leave
● Sick leave
● Arrangements for periodic review of remuneration
● Arrangement re fees for weddings and funeral services
● Arrangements re deputy organists
Is a parish church musician employed or self-employed?
Clergy and select vestries should consider and look into this question very carefully. The employment status of a paid worker depends on, amongst other criteria, what they actually do, the way they do it, the extent to which they report to or are under the control of another person or persons, and the terms and conditions under which they are engaged. It is not simply a matter of a worker or their employer calling the job ’employed’ or self-employed’.
At present, Church Music Dublin expresses no particular views on this subject, other than to suggest that in many cases the correct status of an appointed parish musician will be ’employed’. Parishes may find it useful to seek the views of the diocesan office.