1.1 Customer Access has a commitment to the involvement of volunteers and believes that volunteers play a vital role in extending the scope of our work allowing us to add value to our services and helping to meet service need or demand and achieve our goals, which would not otherwise be possible.
1.2 We recognise that volunteers may be different from paid staff in terms of age, race, cultural background, socio-economic background and educational level and will help to diversify and strengthen the workforce as well as offer a wide range of skills and enthusiasm.
1.3 The aim of the volunteer programme is to provide opportunities for a diverse range of people who wish to give of their time to volunteer with staff, collections and sites of Customer Access to enable them to share their skills, learn new ones and contribute to the aims of our services.
2.0 Role of the volunteer
2.1 Volunteering is defined as “unpaid activity where someone gives their time to help an organisation or an individual who they are not related to” (Volunteering England)
2.2 Volunteers are distinct from work placements, interns and trainees.
2.3 The volunteer role is on the basis of a mutual agreement between Customer Access and the volunteer and is binding in honour only. There is no enforceable obligation, contractual or otherwise, on volunteers to attend, give or be set a minimum amount of time or carry out the tasks provided. Customer Access is under no obligation to provide regular work or provide payment or other benefit for any activity undertaken.
2.4 Customer Access will not introduce any volunteer role where this would replace or substitute a paid employment opportunity or affect the content of an existing paid job description. Volunteers will not in any circumstance be required to carry out the duties which are currently or have in the past been carried out by a paid member of staff, cover a vacant post, cover for sick or annual leave or substitute in any other way the work of paid staff.
2.5 Volunteer roles will supplement and support the work of paid staff adding value to existing services.
2.6 Customer Access will fully consult with Trade Union Officials on significant changes to the volunteer policy and any new volunteering roles.
3.0 Recruitment and selection
3.1 Volunteers across the service will follow the same recruitment and selection procedure.
3.2 All volunteer roles will be advertised by us on the Leeds City Council website and other relevant sites. We will also advertise volunteer opportunities in local libraries, community hubs and other relevant community locations. We will not engage in speculative recruitment.
3.3 All volunteer roles advertised will have a role description and where possible will specify the location and frequency required.
3.4 We will direct all prospective volunteers to the Leeds City Council website where there will be a role description and application form to complete and return.
3.5 When a completed form is received, we will contact referees and once suitable references are received we will contact the prospective short listed volunteer/s and an informal interview will be arranged to discuss skills, role and expectations.
3.6 Following a successful interview we will contact the volunteer and offer them the position, via email or letter. The offer may be subject to a Disclosure and Barring Service check - DBS if applicable. The need for a DBS check will be stated in the role description.
3.7 Customer Access reserves the right to determine that a prospective volunteer may not be appropriate. However, every effort will be made to signpost unsuccessful applicants to other local volunteering opportunities.
3.8 We will ask all successful applicants to agree to the terms of the Volunteer Agreement. The Volunteer Agreement sets what is expected of volunteers and what volunteers can expect from us. This agreement can be terminated by either party at any time and is not intended to be a contract nor is it legally binding.
3.9 We will contact all unsuccessful applicants by email or letter. We will not retain any information or keep applications on file for future roles.
3.10 Targeted volunteer projects may operate differently at the discretion of the management where a prospective volunteer is not short listed for an advertised role but is found to have skills which could be used, short term, within the project to enhance it.
4.0 Equality and diversity
4.1 We will not pay volunteers for the work they carry out. However, in all other respects volunteers are entitled to be treated on an equal basis with paid staff.
4.2 Volunteering opportunities are open to everyone regardless of gender, ethnic origin, cultural background, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, religious belief, age. Customer Access will seek to make our volunteer roles accessible to as wide an audience as possible and will consider the profile of the Leeds communities in its volunteer recruitment process. In addition we will seek to consult with a range of communities, groups and individuals in order to develop the volunteer programme.
4.3 Customer Access have a commitment to equality and diversity principles and will seek to challenge all forms of prejudice and discrimination.
5.0 Management of volunteers
5.1 It is the role of the Volunteer Coordinator to coordinate and provide regular support to volunteers. The Volunteer Coordinator will be available to deal with any questions or problems that volunteers within the service may have.
5.2 It is the role of the Volunteer Development Manager to develop the volunteer programme to offer it a sustainable and successful future through the assessment of volunteer needs within Customer Access, devising new projects for volunteers and developing relationships with various internal and external partners, colleagues, organisations and groups.
5.3 We will undertake an induction with all volunteers into the service and the role they will carry out.
5.4 We will ensure all volunteers receive the training required to carry out their role. Other additional training needs that may arise during the course of volunteer roles can be discussed with their Volunteer Coordinator. It is not the policy of Customer Access to provide training to volunteers in areas which do not directly relate to the volunteer role.
5.5 We will provide onward employment references for volunteers on request following a regular volunteering role and provided that they are known to the organization, volunteer details are kept for 12 months following the last active volunteer role.
6.0 Policies and procedures
6.1 We expect all volunteers to carry out their role in accordance with the Equality and Diversity and Health & Safety policies; Safeguarding procedures and the Confidentiality & Keeping Information Safe guidelines.
6.2 All volunteers will be covered by Leeds City Council’s public liability insurance.
7.1 Where volunteers are entitled to claim out of pocket expenses they will be informed of this by their Volunteer Coordinator.
7.2 Volunteer expenses will cover out of pocket expenses for travel to and from the place of volunteering only unless otherwise stated at time of application, and will only be paid on production of a valid ticket for travel or completed mileage form. Volunteers are expected to use the cheapest practicable means of transport which they will identify in consultation with their Volunteer Coordinator.
7.3 Volunteers wishing to claim expenses must complete an expenses form and submit it at least every three months.
8.0 Time off
8.1 It is understood that volunteers will have to take time off for holidays, sickness and emergencies. It is requested that whenever possible, advance notification of time off for holidays will be given to their Volunteer Coordinator.
8.2 As volunteers are not paid members of staff, they will not be required to complete a selfcertification sickness form or provide GP sickness Fit Notes for periods of sickness. It is requested that whenever possible, volunteers advise their Volunteer Coordinator if they are unable to attend due to sickness. Expenses cannot be paid for the time period of the volunteer’s absence.
9.1 Customer Access will take appropriate measures to maintain confidentiality concerning the personal details of all volunteers and will do so in accordance with General Data Protection Regulations.
9.2 In return volunteers are required to respect the confidentiality of Customer Access staff, sites, service users and data, as detailed in the Volunteer Handbook.
10.0 Health and safety
10.1 Volunteers must work safely and not put themselves or others are risk. All health and safety policies and procedures apply equally to staff and volunteers. Guidance on the Health and Safety Policy can be found in the Volunteer Handbook.
10.2 Everyone has a legal obligation to protect others from harm or risk. Customer Access does work with vulnerable adults and children. Any concerns a volunteer has about a child or vulnerable adult should be raised with their Volunteer Coordinator.
10.3 Volunteers should not use their car during the course of volunteer duties without discussion and agreement from their Volunteer Coordinator. If agreed, volunteers must inform their insurance company that they intend to use their car for the purpose of volunteering. Use of a personal vehicle in the course of a volunteer role will not be covered by Leeds City Council’s insurance policy and would therefore be used at their own risk.
11.0 Young volunteers
11.1 Customer Access does work with young volunteers under the age of eighteen. We will take appropriate measures to safeguard young people in voluntary activity in line with Leeds City Council ‘Cross Council Safeguarding People Policy & Procedure’.
11.2 All staff who are the main contact for young volunteers will be checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service DBS. We will follow up one reference for volunteers under the age of eighteen.
11.3 We will seek parental consent for voluntary activity from the parent/legal guardian of all volunteers under the age of sixteen. Details of the voluntary role, location and times of participation will be provided to parent/legal guardian.
11.4 Young volunteers will not be placed in any unsupervised voluntary roles either at or away from Customer Access sites and will not be left to supervise other young people or be responsible in any capacity for members of the public including children visiting our sites.
12.0 Complaints procedure
12.1 Any volunteer has the right to complain if they are unhappy or feel that they have not been treated fairly. Further information can be found in Appendix one.
13.0 Gifts and hospitality
13.1 It is the policy of Customer Access that neither members of staff nor volunteers should accept any offers of gifts, money, favours, discounts, loans, legacies (things you are left in wills) or hospitality. Hospitality includes things like meals, refreshments and offers of transport. The list is not exhaustive which means that something which is not mentioned may still be considered a gift or hospitality.
13.2 Neither members of staff or volunteers should solicit gifts or hospitality (other than modest refreshments such as a cup of tea at a meeting).
13.3 This is legislated under The Bribery Act 2012; section 117 of the Local Government Act and section 2 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1916.
13.4 The policy and procedure helps to protect the council’s reputation; people’s confidence in our staff, services and volunteers by ensuring you avoid behaviour which could leave you open to prosecution and the council from potential prosecution.
13.5 There are exceptions but you may still need to declare them:
- Gifts and hospitality of minimal value, for example a small box of chocolates from a service user; a branded pen from a company; tea or coffee from a business or client when you visit them. Reasonable offers of transport if it is linked to the business in hand.
- Discounts of a modest nature offered to all employees or volunteers as long as the total discount over twelve months is less than £250 and the individual discount is no more than £50.
- Gifts and hospitality from other employees, volunteers or the council itself.
- Promotional offers, such as “free gifts” from suppliers which should be used in the course of your volunteering.
13.6 If an offer is made in person you should politely but firmly decline it or seek permission to accept it.
13.7 The form for declaring gifts and hospitality is available on request from your volunteer coordinator.
14.0 Resolution procedure
14.1 It is recognised that it is very rare that volunteers’ behaviour will result in sanctions and that most instances of inappropriate behaviour will be of a minor or passing nature which can be dealt with orally and informally. It is also recognised that such instances may indicate that there is a need for the volunteer to undertake training and Customer Access is committed to continually developing volunteers to ensure that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to perform their task well and appropriately. Further information can be found in Appendix 2.
Volunteer complaints process
A volunteer who wishes to follow the complaints process should:
1.0 In the first instance, discuss their complaint informally with their Volunteer Coordinator. The Volunteer Coordinator will ensure that the complaint is taken seriously and make sure that everything is done to resolve the issue.
2.0 If you feel that the issue has not been resolved satisfactorily you must raise the grievance without unreasonable delay in writing to your Volunteer Coordinator. If your grievance is with this person you may wish to send it to the Workforce & Volunteer Development Manager.
3.0 A meeting will then be held with you within ten days if possible. At this meeting you will be asked to explain your complaint and how you think it could be resolved. Following the meeting you will receive a letter stating what action, if any, is considered appropriate.
4.0 If you still do not feel that your grievance has been resolved satisfactorily, you must raise your grievance in writing with a Senior Manager. The Senior Manager will invite you to a meeting where they will discuss how best to resolve the situation. Following the meeting the Senior Manager will give you a written response. This letter will include a reference to the right of appeal.
5.0 If this does not resolve the matter to your satisfaction, you can appeal to the person who dealt with your complaint (Volunteer Coordinator/Workforce & Volunteer Development Manager). The appeal should be in writing and set out the reasons why you don’t agree with the outcome, this should be done within 10 days of receiving the letter.
6.0 A meeting will be held as soon as is possible to hear the reasons for your appeal and you will be sent a letter detailing the outcome without undue delay.
7.0 Mediation may be sought at any point during the complaint process as a way of resolving any issues you may be experiencing. This will involve an impartial third party, the mediator, helping the parties involved come to an agreement in a confidential and less formal environment.
8.0 If we are unable to resolve the matter through mediation or the complaint process, it may be appropriate at this stage to allocate you a new Volunteer Coordinator or to suggest that the volunteering agreement comes to an end. We will, where possible signpost you to alternative local volunteering opportunities.
9.0 At all meetings you may be supported by a person of your choice not acting in a professional capacity (For example, a friend or family member).
These guidelines are intended to provide a fair resolution process for volunteer complaints. It does not imply any employment relationship at this time or any time in the future. Customer Access is under no obligation to provide volunteer roles and we may terminate a volunteer role at any time without recourse to these guidelines.
Volunteer resolution procedure
1.0 Informal procedure
It is recognised that it is very rare that volunteers’ behaviour will result in disciplinary action and that most instances of inappropriate behaviour will be of a minor or passing nature which can be dealt with orally and informally. It is also recognised that such instances may indicate that there is a need for the volunteer to undertake training and Customer Access is committed to continually developing volunteers to ensure that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to perform their task well and appropriately. If any volunteer has a problem with the way another volunteer or staff member is behaving or actions taken by them they should ask the Volunteer Coordinator for advice. If informal proceedings do not result in the desired behaviour change or the initial incident is very serious, a written report setting out the nature of the alleged incident or offence will be made to the Volunteering Coordinator. Serious incidents might involve for example violent behaviour, theft or vandalism.
2.0 Formal procedure
At any stage during this process the volunteer can seek support from their Volunteer Coordinator. This might be to:
- listen and offer moral support
- explain the procedure
- help identify the options open to the complainant
- help draft a letter
Within 10 working days of receiving the report the Volunteer Coordinator will arrange an interview with the volunteer concerned, who may be accompanied to the meeting by a person of their choice not acting in a professional capacity (Such as a friend or family member). The Volunteers Coordinator will carry out the meeting. The Volunteer Coordinator will investigate the allegation at the meeting and hear the volunteer’s response.
Following the meeting the volunteer will be informed in writing within 5 days of any action that will be taken. The Volunteer Coordinator, where appropriate, may suspend a volunteer from their role pending the arranged meeting.
3.0 Appeal procedure
If the volunteer is dissatisfied with the decision taken he or she can approach the Workforce & Volunteer Development Manager for a final decision.
Please note that this procedure differs from Leeds City Council’s paid staff disciplinary procedure.