The Scottish Federation of Organists



Salaries Committee


The Salaries Committee exists to produce and keep up to date guidelines on Organists' Salaries.  


Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis the review due for 1st January 2021 has been deferred and so the 2019-20 recommended scales will remain our recommendation until 2022 when a further review will hopefully become possible.


Individual enquiries of a general nature are also taken and help and assistance given where possible, however, individuals with enquiries about their personal contractual matters and tax matters should also take advice from their own solicitor or accountant.

Recommended Salary Scales for Organists


regarding Note 2 below - Recording Fees


11th January 2021 - The Solicitor of the Church of Scotland has advised that it is intended to vary the style organists' contracts for the duraration of the COVID-19 crisis and has asked for our opinion on the subject.  After consultation by telephone the members of the SFO Salaries and Contracts Committee have unanimously agreed that in the present circumstances it is not appropriate for organists to expect to be paid the 50%/100% recording fees where services are recorded for on-line streaming making the services available when normal services in church are not possible.


The exception, in the sub-committee's opinion, is where a wedding is recorded at the couple's request and their expense for the recording to be kept by the couple as part of the wedding memories.  In that case the normal 50%/100% fee is perfectly reasonable.


Recommended Salary Scales for Organists

1 January 2019 - 31 December 2020

(extended to 31 December 2021)


After careful consideration the SFO Committee agreed that the 2017-18 Organists’ Recommended Salary Scales should be increased by 3% from 1st January 2019. This was less than the average increase in the Retail Price Index of 3½% over the two years of the 2018-19 scales and showed our willingness to assist churches by limiting the recommended increase.


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


It was recommended that the new scales be followed from 1st January 2019. It was intended that these scales should remain in force until 31st December 2020, at which time they would be reviewed.


As a result of the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis the Salaries & Contracts Committee met remotely on 18 April 2020 and agreed that it would not be appropriate to seek any adjustment to recommended salaries from 1 January 2021.  Thus, the scales herein will remain in force until further notice.


The 2019-20 scales are shown below with the 2017-18 scales shown in brackets for reference


a) Churches without choirs

Salary £1,700 - £2,650 Additional Service/Deputy Fee £65 (Salary £1,640- £2,550 Deputy Fee £61.50)


b) Churches with choirs making an occasional individual contribution to worship

Salary £2,650 - £4,150 Additional Service/Deputy Fee £65 - £80 (Salary £2,550 - £4,050 Deputy Fee £61.50 - £77)


c) Churches with choirs making a substantial individual contribution to worship

Salary £4,150 - £5,550 Additional Service/Deputy Fee £80 - £105 (Salary £4,050 - £5,400 Deputy Fee £77 - £102.50)


d) Churches with complete and competent choirs singing full choral services 

Salary £5,550 - £8,300 Additional Service/Deputy Fee £105 - £115 (Salary £5,400 - £8,075 Deputy Fee £102.50 - £112.75)


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 £8,300→ Additional Service/Deputy Fee £115→ (Salary £8,075→ Deputy Fee £112.75→)




1. Different services contain different emphases but all are important and therefore receive equal treatment.  It is recommended that Deputy Fees, Weddings and Funerals are all paid at the Deputy Fee rate.


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.


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 do not wish to subscribe to these scales should not seek to engage organists who do expect these scales to be observed but it should also be noted that those who benefit from being paid the recommended 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.


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 1HZ, or by 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

19th April 2020