Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hey Fletch … I’m wondering if you have any guidance around paying for employee’s passport? It’s not expressly written that employees have to go on mission trips through the church but it is expected. We have an employee whose passport expired but is leading a trip in 2019. He’s raised the question asking if the church should pay the $130 for his passport renewal. I’m torn because it’s work related but with him only going once every few years he may travel for personal use on the passport. Thoughts?

DRF—I like the way that you start out, by stating that it is expected that employees go on mission trips. That comment gives a good sense of the church’s desire. If it is an expectation to go on a mission trip, then it would seem natural for the church to pay for the passport, photo and any other fees. This is strengthened further since the person is a leader of the trip.

A passport is valid for 10 years. If the staff member goes every three years, that would be at least three trips for the $130 passport fee, or about $33 per trip. I would have the church pay it—and have done this in the past when employees asked for it.

That being said, if you think that they are going to do a significant amount of personal travel on the passport, then offer to pay half or two-thirds of the passport fee. 

What you want is a win-win scenario. You want the employee and church to feel that the church paid a fair portion of the passport fee.