The Scottish Federation of Organists

Recommended Salary Scales for Organists
1 January 2017 - 31 December 2018

After careful consideration and in view of increases to ministers’ stipends of 2% in 2015 and 1% in 2016 (compounding to 3.02% over the two years), the SFO Committee has agreed to the proposal of the Salaries Committee of the SFO that the 2015-16 Organists’ Recommended Salary Scales should be increased by 2½% from 1 January 2017.  It is intended that these scales should remain in force until 31 December 2018, at which time they will be reviewed.

The new scales have also been endorsed by The Church of Scotland through its Mission and Discipleship Council.

It is recommended that the new scales be followed from 1 January 2017.

The 2017 - 18 scales are shown below with the 2015 - 16 scales shown in brackets for reference.

a) Churches without choirs
Salary £1,640 - £2,550 Additional Service/Deputy Fee £61.50 (Salary £1,600- £2,475 Deputy Fee £60)

b) Churches with choirs making an occasional individual contribution to worship
Salary £2,550 - £4,050 Additional Service/Deputy Fee £61.50 - £77 (Salary £2,475 - £3,940 Deputy Fee £60 - £75)

c) Churches with choirs making a substantial individual contribution to worship
Salary £4,050 - £5,400 Additional Service/Deputy Fee £77 - £102.50 (Salary £3,940 - £5,275 Deputy Fee £75 - £100)

d) Churches with complete and competent choirs singing full choral services
Salary £5,400 - £8,075 Additional Service/Deputy Fee £102.50 - £112.75 (Salary £5,275 - £7,875 Deputy Fee £100 - £110)

e) Churches employing a full or part time professional director of music with extensive responsibilities are recommended to consider salary scales higher than scale d)
Salary £8,075+ Additional Service/Deputy Fee £112.75+ (Salary £7,875+ Deputy Fee £110+)


1. There is a uniform approach to fees for additional services such as weddings and funerals, and Deputy Fees.  Different services contain different emphases, but all are important and should receive equal treatment.

2. Recording fees remain unchanged:
        The fee + 50% for sound recording
        The fee + 100% for video recording

3. These scales are not mandatory.  They provide guidelines for churches throughout Scotland.  These scales are endorsed by the Mission and Discipleship Council of The Church of Scotland and it is hoped that they will also be adopted by the other denominations.

4. If exceptional situations arise, which are not covered by these scales - for example, the number and nature of services within the Anglican and Roman Liturgies, or within Church of Scotland linked charges - then dialogue and negotiation are recommended as ways towards mutual agreement.  Organists should be prepared to be pro-active in such matters and not diffident concerning reference to these scales.

5. These scales exist to provide a working framework and to maintain reasonable standards of remuneration.  If there are musicians who are prepared to accept alternative remuneration, or to offer their services on a voluntary basis, then that is a matter for individual decisions and outwith the scope of these recommendations.

6. Churches that are experiencing financial difficulties or who do not wish to subscribe to these scales should not seek to engage organists who do expect these scales to be observed.

7. It should not be necessary to emphasise that the labourer be worthy of hire.  Those who benefit from SFO scales should be competent to do so.

8.The current Church of Scotland style of Contract for Organists is available from the Church of Scotland Legal Department at 121 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4YH (0131 225 5722) of from the C of S website.  This is not mandatory and organists entering into a new position should check the proposed contract carefully before agreeing to it.

9.These scales now remain relevant until 31 December 2018 by when a further review will have taken place.

10. In recent times enquires about the remuneration of directors and members of Praise Bands have become more common.  This is a complex question involving whether or not these people are volunteers and whether they are amateur or professional.  The committee is presently investigating this matter.

11. The status of organists playing for funeral services in crematoria is also complex and requires further clarification.

Comments and guidance are always welcome and should be addressed to Donald Maclagan, Chairman of the Salaries Committee by emailing or by mail to 1 Victoria Court, 72 High Street, Kingussie, Highland. PH21 1Z, telephone 01540 662431.

Please note, however, that queries regarding individual contracts and/or tax matters should be addressed to your own Solicitor or other professional adviser

Donald T Maclagan CertHE(SMS) DipRSCM
Convener, SFO/CofS Salaries Committee
1 October 2016 and 15 March 2017
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