17 – Accompanying Spouse

SIL Advisory Notice

  • Notice Number: 17
  • Notice Date: September 20, 2019
  • Distribution: SIL Area HR leaders – Forward to all HR staff and Unit leaders & Unit HR teams Alliance Representatives – forward to appropriate Organisations and your team members. Cc: HeRMiTs where appropriate please forward to your teams


Message: This advisory notice is a single element of a larger advisory notice being prepared regarding SIL affiliation. Please treat it as an interim notice.

There could be spouses co-located with a work-assigned spouse, but who themselves do not have a work assignment in SIL. In those cases, SIL may continue to have a Duty of Care or consider the spouse as part of the Unit’s community.

Those spouses will be tracked with the Accompanying Spouse position assignment. There is one specific job profile for Accompanying Spouse.


Rationale: An Accompanying Spouse position assignment with an SIL unit ensures that:

  • The Workday system correctly accounts for each person connected with SIL.
  • The Accompanying Spouse does not gain or lose their ‘affiliation’ based on their location.
  • The Accompanying Spouse for whom SIL has Duty of Care will be provided an SIL email account, etc.

Who decides if a person is an Accompanying Spouse?

This decision is reached by the Unit HR leader with input from the Unit Director. Guidance is available from SIL Global HR. Input MUST be sought from the sending partners. Here are a couple examples of necessary awareness by SIL of Alliance organization constraints:

  • In the US, FTE 1.0 can be shared by a couple.
  • In the UK, a person cannot be an accompanying spouse unless they have dependants – either children or elderly parents and the FTE is quite regulated.
  • The UK also expects that SIL will have oversight responsibility for an unassigned spouse traveling with the assigned spouse. That spouse may be engaged in caring for their children, attending to partnership development (PD) activities or in other ways supporting either the SIL unit or the Wycliffe organization.
  • In other salary paying AOs, FTE is closely linked to salary.

How do you decide if a spouse is an Accompanying Spouse? 

The following criteria should be considered:

  1. Does the SIL Unit leader confirm SIL has some level of duty of care to the spouse?
    • Please ensure that a person is given an Accompanying Spouse position ONLY if SIL has a Duty of Care. Does the SIL Unit have Duty of Care for this unassigned person and or their dependents?  (for example child safeguarding and evacuation) If not, then an Accompanying Spouse position is not needed.
  1. Does the Unit leader confirm the spouse is considered part of the community of the Unit and is to be included and involved in peripheral activities of the Unit? (such as spiritual retreats, hospitality, prayer)? If yes, then the person should be assigned to an Accompanying Spouse position.
  1. Is the spouse employed outside of SIL? Spouses who are employed outside of SIL are not accompanying their SIL-assigned spouse and should not be given an Accompanying spouse position assignment. (If such a spouse travels with their spouse to a SIL location or meeting the Duty of Care would be defined as though the person was a visitor not a staff person. However, morally they may well be treated as staff for crisis management.)
  1. Other factors to consider if living in their home country
    • If location of their residence is close to support base, other colleagues, or offices,
    • Support capabilities of Sending Organization.
    • Support of local church.
    • Proximity of family/relatives
  2. Would the national spouse of an expatriate SIL staff person (serving outside their home country) be put into an Accompanying Spouse position?

This would be up to the SIL unit, as they know what their level of responsibility is and whether or not the spouse is considered part of that community.

A couple possible scenarios:

  1. There is a physical SIL community in which the couple are co-located. It makes sense that the national spouse would have an Accompanying Spouse position, would agree to all the SIL agreements and abide by SIL policy – because the spouse is located there!
  2. The couple is in local housing and there is no tangible way to reflect SIL’s care or what SIL community looks like. That is a different situation.

Think through pragmatic questions, like the next one, when trying to find the answer.

Question:  Is the national spouse employed outside of SIL? On the surface if they are employed elsewhere, the answer to affiliating them as an Accompanying Spouse would be ‘no’.

But consider the following questions and see if they change that answer.

  1. If there is a political event and SIL staff are evacuated, would the couple agree to be evacuated? If so, would the national spouse travel with the expat spouse?
  2. If there was a critical medical need that could not be addressed locally where they live, is there an expectation that the SIL unit would facilitate arrangements to get the national spouse to relevant medical care?
  3. Is the national spouse included in group functions (if there are any), prayer communications – in other words, is the community relationship part of the situation?

I think if there is a ‘yes’ answer to any of these questions, then the SIL unit may want to consider affiliating the national spouse as Accompanying Spouse. At the very least, if there is an expectation that the national spouse would be evacuated with the expat spouse, there should be an Agreement in place that SIL has indeed agreed to that and who pays for what.

REMEMBER: A position assignment is not about access to an email account. Spouses are NOT to be given a position solely to keep an sil.org email account.

Please contact Lynn Onken (SIL HR Director for HR Processes)  if there are questions on whether the person should be considered within SIL’s Duty of Care.

New Information: Location is not a deciding factor. Whether the couple is co-located outside of their home country, or a resident in their home country, the four criteria above should be considered when determining whether or not a spouse should be given an Accompanying Spouse position.

Further comments: In granting an  Accompanying Spouse assignment to a person a Unit is recommended to also specify the responsibilities of a “Good Citizen” of the Unit.With the assignment comes responsibility to participate where they can in the activity of the community and to attend such things a prayer days and community events. 

How do you designate a person as an accompanying spouse in Workday? 

  • Use of the Accompanying Spouse position assignment begins already at the pre-field discussion level.  When considering a couple for an SIL assignment, both spouses need to be in pipeline position assignments, not just the spouse that will have a work assignment. If you do not include the non-working spouse, that spouse will not be seen in the Workday system or on any report. You will also not see any information of the spouse.
  • Use the correct job profile.  Use Accompanying Spouse, located in the HR Administrative Assignments Job Family
  • Back-date the assignment to the effective date the person was part of your SIL unit or to the date when they no longer had a work assignment, but are still part of that SIL unit.
  • Please ONLY select ‘1 hour’ for the work hours!
  • This position is only to be used for tracking spouses without a work assignment.

What to do about tracking Leaves:

Until we confirm a clear way forward for what to do for various Leave situations, please contact the staff person’s Sending Organization and SIL Global HR (Lynn Onken).

In Summary:

If an unassigned spouse who is considered part of that SIL unit is *not* put into an Accompanying Spouse position — then they will not be affiliated with SIL,or have SIL (associate) membership, or receive an SIL email account, etc.

Thank you for ensuring that all staff who fit in this category are appropriately entered into Workday.

Lynn Onken

Director for HR Processes

SIL Global HR

Actions Requested of HR and SIL Leaders