The rights of volunteers refers to the ‘best practice’ methods that we encourage organisations that we refer you on to, to adopt. In life, rights come with responsibilities and volunteering is no exception to this.
Every organisation and role is different, but here are some responsibilities you should adhere to as a volunteer:
- Only undertake tasks you feel able to handle
- Meet your agreed time commitments or to provide adequate notice that you will be unavailable
- Perform your tasks to the best of your ability
- Follow organisational policies and procedures
- Respect confidentiality
- Represent the organisation accurately and positively at all times
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Ideally there should be no long delays in offering your services, being contacted by the organisation and starting your new role.
However, please do bear in mind that applying for DBS, where applicable, and seeking references can take time for any organisation so it could be a few weeks or months before you actually start. Especially if any specialist training is compulsory for a particular role. If an organisation feels that you are not suitable for the position you applied for, you should be told at an early stage and the reasons why.
There should be no discrimination on race, sex, sexuality, age, class, disability or history of illness. You in turn would be expected not to discriminate against others.
Full information about the organization and how volunteers fit in should be given at the start.
You should be given a clear description (preferably in writing) of your role, listing your tasks, responsibilities, hours agreed to and how your role will be evaluated.
Some organisations may ask you to sign a volunteer agreement that describes what both parties will offer, but this IS NOT A CONTRACT OF WORK and your ultimate right is to say “no”.
You will be expected to let the organisation know as soon as you can if you are unable to carry out your volunteer role.
Volunteers should not be asked to carry out a role that was previously carried out by paid workers.
You should be told who you are responsible to and who will provide you with daily support and supervision. You should be able to approach them to talk through any worries or concerns.
You should have opportunities to training, to develop the skills you need. Make sure the organisation knows of particular skills or interests that you have.
Your work may be reviewed after a few weeks and/or at regular intervals. The review should involve you and those with whom you are closely linked to.
You should be consulted with about any changes in your volunteer role and should have opportunities to be involved in the general life of the organisation.
;Only relevant information should be requested from you during selection and you can ask why it is needed. Anything about you as a volunteer, should be kept confidential.
Equally, you will be expected to keep confidential any information obtained during your volunteering and only share information as appropriate and in accordance with the organisations confidentiality policy.
You should not be asked to work in unsafe or unhealthy conditions. The organisation you volunteer with should have a health and safety policy that meets legal requirements.
The organisation should hold Public Liability Insurance to cover all staff and volunteers.
You can volunteer for as many hours as you want to, as long as you still meet the conditions to get your benefit or tax credit.
We would strongly recommend that you obtain a copy of the Department for Work and Pensions booklet ‘Volunteering While Receiving Benefits’, 2010
Expenses incurred whilst volunteering (eg, travel, phone calls) should be reimbursed to you from the organisation you volunteer with.
However, please note that some organisations cannot afford to pay expenses. It is a good idea to check their expenses policy before you start to volunteer with them.
Any special clothing or equipment needed for your volunteer role should be provided for. Check with them before you volunteer.
Of course you can take time off when you want/need to but we would ask that you give the organisation adequate notice so that they can make alternative arrangements if necessary (eg, you are on a rota for driving).
The organisation that you volunteer with is usually very happy to provide volunteers with a reference upon request.
If your volunteer role is not satisfying, talk to your named contact. They need to know and a small change in your tasks or hours, could make all the difference.
If you are still not satisfied with your volunteer role and/or the organisation, contact the Membership Services Team at email@example.com
for ideas on alternative roles. Please do not think that all volunteering is unsuitable for you.