MEADOWDANCE WORK REQUIREMENTS POLICY
As a rule, each able adult in our Community agrees to fulfill a full minimum work requirement on a weekly basis. There may be exceptions and adjustments to this policy as needed, and these may be expressed in other agreements, by consensual agreement of the Community as a whole.
The purposes of having a work requirement include:
- Ensuring that necessary tasks within the community are completed
- Ensuring the community has adequate monetary income
- Establishing an equitable way in which to distribute work done among community members
- Helping provide opportunities for community residents to participate meaningfully in each others lives and the life of the community
- Integrating work into daily life, as opposed to categorizing it as an outside activity to be avoided if possible, as is the case in much of modern world
- Making work more enjoyable and harmonious
- Making it possible to forecast and determine what work must be done in what amount
- Providing a means to compensate individuals who voluntarily work more than is required
- Allowing for equitability in an environment where there is variation in the amount of time an individual works
The work requirement is expressed in terms of responsibility points, which do not correlate directly to any other unit of measure. All work that is to be done in the community to fulfill a work requirement or to generate additional income shall have a specified value in responsibility points. This may be expressed in any one of a number of ways, for instance points per number of units completed (e.g. "each fully painted flower pot shall be worth five points"), points per hour (e.g. "washing dishes shall be worth 6 points per hour"), points each time a task is completed (e.g. "cooking and putting out a full breakfast for all community residents who wish to eat it shall be worth 18 points, to be divided equally among all who cooperate to make the breakfast") , points per week for taking responsibility for a particular area (e.g. "the responsibility of managing the stocking of the kitchen and pantry shall be worth 24 points per week"), etc.
The total number of responsibility points that make up a weekly work requirement is to be spelled out in a separate agreement, and may be changed from time to time as circumstances change. The requirement amount may be changed for any reason, but some examples of reasons the requirement may change would include a community cash shortage, a substantial community work surplus, temporary pressing building requirements, a change in the number of able community members, etc. It is desirable that the work requirement amount not change on a regular basis, but rather be carefully set so that it shall serve properly for a good period of time.
One or more Caretakers shall be found for each area in which work is done that falls within this policy. For example, these Caretakers might include a Caretaker of Kitchens, a Caretaker of Community Finances, a Caretaker of Livestock, a Caretaker of Cleaning and Maintenance, a Caretaker of the Heritage Seeds Business, etc. There might be one or several Caretakers for any given area. Where there are several, they shall make decisions among them by formal consensus as adopted by the community as a whole. Caretaking shall be valued in responsibility points and shall count toward Caretakers' work requirements.
Caretakers shall have the responsibility of recommending what work needs to be done, how it should be valued in responsibility points, and how much of it should be done over a given period of time (if there is a need for a specific amount). The Work Requirements and Necessities working group shall be charged with accepting all of these recommendations, making suggested adaptations to them as necessary (for example, to balance out equitability of work requirements across areas), and presenting them to the entire community as necessary for ratification, modification, and/or rejection. Caretakers should prepare their recommendations in the context of plans for several months or as much as a year, depending on how far into the future the projections can accurately be determined for the particular area. In this way the community does not need to review and validate work plans more often than is strictly needed.
ASSIGNING RESPONSIBILITY POINTS; ASSIGNING WORK
For orientation, one Responsibility Point may be considered roughly equivalent to 15 anticipated minutes of work. This guideline is only to provide a frame of reference and is NOT a rule for determination of responsibility point values. Work may be valued at above or below this value for any number of reasons, for example inconvenience, relative undesirability or popularity, difficulty, ability to combine with some other activity, how much of the particular amount of work is needed, etc. Responsibility point values may also be determined without any reference whatsoever to time worked at any point in the process, based on having a comfort level with how much work a responsibility point feels like.
Requirements or recommendations for logging work responsibilities and work expected to be done may be set forth if necessary in a separate agreement. It is recommended that any such work planning be done through a community-wide, computerized work tracking system.
Completed community work will be stored in a computer system that is available community-wide, with the individual who did the work, the task (as already provided with specific responsibility point value), the date, if appropriate the quantity of work done, and any notes that may be appropriate, either to help improve the work requirement system itself or for other purposes. A system should be put in place to ensure that Caretakers of specific areas receive and review the feedback on responsibility point values in order to improve the appropriateness and effectiveness of the system.
Reporting completed work is done only for the information of the individual, to allow tracking of work done beyond the requirement, and to identify problems with the work system. It is to be executed in a spirit of cooperation, trust, and encouragement. By no means should it become hierarchical, or unnecessarily inconvenient or confining. This system should not require logging of hours except in those unusual situations w here a task's responsibility points are based on the number of hours worked on that task. Additionally, no outside verification should normally be required; a community member's word should generally be taken as full proof that a task was completed.
As a rule, points earned beyond the requirement in one week may be accrued for application to a future week if desired, but except where the community makes an explicit exception community members should not fall behind in their requirement one week and plan to make it up in the next, as this kind of practice often leads to virtually irreparable shortfalls even with the best of intentions. However, if a shortfall does occur in one week without a special exemption from the community or application of previously earned points, it must be made up by the individual as soon as possible.
Responsibility points are not transferable except within families (however the community wishes to define that term) and by exception granted by the community. As a rule, money and goods are not acceptable in lieu of responsibility points.
Work done beyond the required amount may be used in any of the following ways, each to be tracked in the community's computerized work management system
- Credited to another family member
- Accrued for use against a future week
- Donated to the community
- Converted into community investment at a specific dollar rate per point, to be established in a separate agreement and modified from time to time as needed. This option may not always be available, and should be made explicitly available or unavailable by community decision.
- Converted into a cash payment to the individual at the same dollar rate as with conversion to community investment. This option may not always be available, and should be made explicitly available or unavailable by community decision.
- Used to gain some additional benefit or goods within the community.
Example: A community member who wishes to live in housing that is more expensive than the community standard but not unreasonable from a community values standpoint may have an additional work requirement each week to compensate the community for the expense. Second example: The community might obtain some special luxury food item for the individual in exchange for a specified number of surplus responsibility points.
If the member has a responsibility point deficit, all additional points earned are applied to the deficit until it is erased, unless otherwise agreed by consensus. A point deficit may be partially or fully forgiven by consensus decision of the community.
A separate agreement may be created to credit each member or resident of the community with a specific number of responsibility points on a periodic basis, for example crediting a particular number of points per year. By this method, persons in the community may have the ability to take vacations or days off or lessen their work in a given week without having to save up additional work responsibility points for that purpose. Such credits apply only to persons who have a work requirement This approach is intended to address the questions of vacations and holidays. By offering an overall allotment of points that can be used for this purpose, members are not tied to specific holidays, and even have the flexibility to take their "vacations and holidays" as slightly reduced work requirements or even as cash, as though it were additional work done. This allows for a fair policy across the board, not specially favoring people who prefer to take a non-working vacation.
If an individual should leave the Community for any reason while having a deficit in responsibility points, the community may convert those points to currency and deduct that amount from any community investment the individual has made, or require cash reimbursement for the value of those points, or forgive the deficit, or make other arrangements with the individual.
DIFFICULTY COMPLETING WORK REQUIREMENT
If a particular individual acts in good faith, but has difficulty for whatever reason fulfilling a work requirement that it should be within their abilities to complete, the community should take some specific action to help the individual remedy the situation. One approach that may often be most appropriate is the appointing of a volunteer Clearness Committee, which assists the individual in identifying the roots of the problem and in monitoring and discussing progress in fixing it. The Clearness Committee can and should approach the individual's difficulty in a spirit of support, cooperation, and respect.
If Clearness Committees and/or all other reasonable measures are not sufficient to assist a member in consistently and completely fulfilling his or her work requirement, the community may wish to consider expulsion as a final means to address the problem.
EXCEPTIONS TO WORK ASSIGNMENTS
No community member should be required to perform work that poses a health concern to him or her (e.g. asking an asthmatic to do something that raises a lot of dust) or that is morally repugnant to him or her (e.g. a vegetarian being asked to participate in hog butchering). Should a situation arise where this work would normally be assigned as a chore, the chore rotation schedule should be planned such that another chore is substituted.
There may be limitations on what is reasonable in terms of these exceptions. For example, if a vegetarian prefers not to wash a dish that was once used to cook meat, this may be considered an unreasonable limitation. Such difficulties may be referred to the Work Requirements Group for consideration; if no satisfactory decision is reached, they may be brought to the community as a whole for consensus discussion.
JOB SATISFACTION AND CHANGING JOBS
Periodically we will hold a community-wide meeting to allow discussion of individuals' satisfaction with their work and the issue of community work satisfaction in general. At this meeting, job assignments can be changed if appropriate.
As a community, we are supportive of members who enjoy changing jobs as well as members who enjoy staying in a job for a long period of time. If an individual wishes to take on or share a job that is already filled, the resolution of that issue would occur on a case-by-base basis as described below:
An individual who wishes to enter a filled position may take up the question with the person who already holds it and/or the Caretaker(s) of that work area. If the issue cannot be resolved on this level, it can be brought up with the work requirements group. If the issue remains unresolved, it can be brought to a community consensus discussion for resolution on that level.
PRIVATE BUSINESSES AND OUTSIDE JOBS
There are no restrictions on community members holding outside jobs or running private businesses except where a conflict with some community Agreement is perceived, and provided the individual fills a full work requirement within the community (including chores plus work in community jobs and/or community businesses). For example, if the work requirement is 200 RPs, a member who does 200 RPs of community work plus scheduled chores each week is not to be impeded from holding down an outside job as well, or running a private business. All income realized in this situation goes to the individual member, and there is no requirement that the money realized be invested in the community.
In unusual circumstances it is acceptable for a community member to substitute some or all income realized from an outside job or community business for a portion of the community work requirement. This option is only available if the community comes to consensus on the specific individual being able to substitute such income for work, and such consensus is to be based on the importance of the work to the individual's sense of self or individual happiness and/or some positive social, ecological, etc. impact of the outside job.
As a rule, work in a private business or an outside job may not be substituted for any part of the Chore Requirement, and some part of the Basic Work Requirement will still apply. The community must come to consensus on the exact number or proportion of responsibility points that are required from everyone with a work requirement, including persons working in an outside job or a private business.
The exact proportion or amount of income from an outside job or private business must be determined on a case-by-case basis, unless the community as a whole accepts some policy to address this question. As a guideline, it should be considered that in a sense the time used to do the work that is substituted for the community work is time owed to the community, and that in many cases it may be appropriate for the community to receive all income (after taxes and business expenses) that is directly attributable to that time.
Example: Prior to joining the community, Alice has been working 40 hours each week at a facility where she helps blind children learn ways to be more independent. She loves this work and feels it has importance both to her and the children. The community has set (in this example) a minimum work requirement of 80 RPs for everyone, and the full Basic Work Requirement is 200 RPs. By consensus, the community decides to support Alice in her work, and to accept the full income (after taxes) for 30 hours per week of that work in lieu of 120 RPs. Each week, Alice then works 40 hours per week at her old job, plus 80 RPs within the community, plus her chore assignment according to the chore schedule. 3/4 of her income from the school for the blind goes to the community in lieu of the 120 RPs she is not fulfilling, and the remaining 1/4 goes to her.
The community may rescind the acceptance of outside work income or private business income in lieu of community work at any time by full consensus decision, provided due respect is accorded the individual in this process.
The community does not provide work space, utilities, materials, or personnel for private businesses except by separate arrangement with the private business, and generally for a reasonable payment. For example, if three individuals in the community wish to run a small environmental consulting business in their spare time, they have several options for space and equipment for this business, for example:
- They may pay for separate facilities outside the community out of their own funds
- They may rent facilities and equipment from the community
- They may rent space from the community and purchase equipment from their own funds
There are no restrictions on community members working in other community members' private businesses, provided this does not conflict with fulfillment of the work requirement.
The community may need to take steps to be certain of the level of income that may be expected from an outside job or private business, to ensure that the community receives the expected level of income from these activities where they are substituted for community work.
A separate Chore Requirement will apply to each person with a full Work Requirement, and in certain cases perhaps to others within the community. Chores are not specifically defined, but in general encompass cleaning and domestic tasks for the community that would otherwise be part of the core Work Requirement.
Where terminology is concerned, "Basic Work Requirement" may be used to refer to the work done based on responsibility points, and "Full Work Requirement" may be used to refer to the combination of the Basic Work Requirement and the Chore Work Requirement. Work Requirement as a generic term may generally be considered to refer to the Basic Work Requirement.
Chores will not be associated with responsibility points, but rather will be individually defined and rotated among all members. Rotations should specify several individuals responsible for a given chore at any given time, and the Work Requirements Group or other work assignment body shall schedule this work in such a way that it can be done in a group for those members who wish to do this work in a group. Members who wish to work individually on chores may do the work at some separate time.
Chore work applies only to community areas and buildings. The cleaning of individual homes is the responsibility of those who live in each home.
As a rule, chores will comprise cleaning or other "domestic" work that no one has a specific preference to take on as part of their community work. Once the Basic Work Requirement and related work assignments are settled in at least a tentative manner, the Work Requirements Group will prepare a proposed list of community Chores, which will then be adopted, replaced, considered, and amended by the community as a whole, on an as-needed basis. This process may require some rounds of tweaking the work requirement amount and other aspects of the Full Work Requirement in order to maintain an accurate work budget and chore assignment schedule.
Chore requirements and rotation schedules will be developed by the Work Requirements group and proposed to the community as a whole for approval. They can be updated as needed. Adjustments for changes in the people who participate in chores and minor adjustments in the composition or scheduling of chores need not be reviewed by the entire community. Significant changes in what chores are done or other significant implementation changes must be submitted as a new proposal to the community for consensus discussion.
Chore schedules are to be posted at least one month in advance. Community members may make trades or arrangements with other community members to cover chores when away, ill, or otherwise unable to complete the chores; however, chores are not to be traded under other circumstances.
There are two primary ways in which a work budget will be established. Either one of these may be used at any given time, depending on what appears to be the most effective approach. In either case, the end result will be a list of responsibility points assigned to each work area, for instance meal preparation (if that is not designated a chore), building, each community business, agriculture, and so on. As previously mentioned, caretakers of each area will be responsible for recommending a division of the allotted points. Both the overall budget and the use of work in each area may be changed, approved, rejected, updated, etc. by consensus of the community as a whole. However, the overall budget will generally be presented as a proposal that requires explicit consensus, whereas the allotment of work in each area is to be reported on to the community and only brought up for consensus discussion if a community member has a significant concern about it.
The Work Requirements Group should establish how often work budgets will be created. Responsibility points will be allotted for the period as a whole, not necessarily to be used evenly over the budgeting period. It is expected that either a monthly or quarterly budgeting cycle will be the most effective; however, this is left to the discretion of the Work Requirements Group.
The two ways in which a work budget will normally be established are as follows. The choice of which technique to use lies with the Work Requirements Group for any particular budgeting period.
1. Point budgets are developed for each work area in consultation with its caretaker(s) and normally based on caretaker recommendations. These area budgets are then totaled and any additional factors (margin for error, emergency point fund, etc.) added on to determine the total work budget.
2. An overall point budget is determined, and points are allotted to each work area from the overall budget, with a specified amount retained for other purposes (margin for error, emergency point fund, etc.).
Once the total point budget is determined, the points in the budget are divided by the number of weekly full-time work requirements that will be done in the period (i.e. total number of adults in the community who will work a full work requirement, plus any partial work requirements that will be fulfilled, all times the number of weeks in the budgeting period). The resulting figure is the weekly work requirement amount in responsibility points.
The work budget may be revised or replaced as necessary. Major changes to the budget require consensus approval.