Staff volunteering policy

Introduction

Oxford Brookes University seeks to play a leading role in the socio-economic and cultural development of the communities that it serves. As part of its commitment to community engagement the University has introduced a Staff Volunteering Policy. The policy is also intended to support, encourage and develop employees by facilitating their involvement in a wide range of local, national and international community organisations.

This document provides a comprehensive summary of volunteering entitlements and responsibilities. More detailed information on staff volunteering is contained in the University’s volunteering guidelines.

The leave entitlements detailed in this policy are additional to those included in the University policy on leave for voluntary public duties.

Aims

The aim of this policy is to inform employees and managers of the levels of entitlements for staff volunteering and to provide a framework for the process. It has been designed to enable members of staff to be proactive in identifying suitable voluntary activities that mutually benefit the individual, the University and the community around the world.

Definition

The University defines volunteering as a commitment of time and energy for the benefit of the community, environment, individuals or groups, which can take many forms. It is undertaken freely and not for financial gain.

Volunteering conditions

The policy applies to employees on permanent and fixed-term contracts only.

Employees may apply for up to 2 days additional paid leave per year (or pro-rata for staff who work part time) to participate in voluntary activities. To receive the additional leave entitlement employees will be expected to commit some of their own leave.

Employees who are entitled to 25 or 26 days annual leave will be expected to commit one days leave of their own to receive up to 2 days additional leave. Staff who are entitled to 27 or more days annual leave will be expected to commit one day of their own leave for each day of additional leave they receive.

The release of employees from work to participate in voluntary work must be balanced against the other demands and priorities of the Faculty/Department and as such, time-off for this purpose is not an entitlement.

Time entitlements cannot be carried from one leave year to the next.

Process

Employees interested in staff volunteering should complete the volunteering application form and risk assessment form (see risk assessment section below) and submit it to their line manager at least 4 weeks before the volunteering activity is due to take place. The line manager will reply to the request for leave within 7 days of the request being made.

Managers should give serious consideration to all requests and should manage voluntary activities as flexibly as possible.  There may be business or operational reasons for refusing a request, which the manager should clearly communicate to the employee as soon as possible. In these circumstances line managers and employees should discuss whether an alternative activity or time could be arranged.

Once the volunteering activity has been agreed the signed and completed forms should be sent to the relevant link HR team.

Risk assessment

To ensure it is fulfilling its duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of its employees the University requires that a volunteering risk assessment form must be completed and attached to all volunteering application forms. It is the responsibility of the volunteering organisation named on the application form to undertake the risk assessment. The line manager should send the completed form to the link HR team for an evaluation at least two weeks before the volunteering activity is due to take place. No leave will be granted unless this form has been completed to the satisfaction of HR.

DBS check

In situations where the volunteer to is required to have substantial contact with young people or vulnerable adults (e.g. elderly people, adults with a learning disability), it is likely that they will need a current enhanced DBS check. It is the responsibility of the volunteering organisation and/or the individual employee to identify when this check would be necessary and ensure that this has been undertaken before they commence any volunteering activity.

Evaluation

On completion of the volunteering activity the member of staff will be asked to complete a volunteering evaluation form and return it to the line manager in order that the Faculty/Directorate/University can review the benefits of volunteering.

Refusal of a request for volunteering leave

Staff who feel that they have been unreasonably refused the right to a volunteering leave should, in the first instance raise the matter with their line manager and inform their link HR manager. They can also consult with their union and have the right to raise the matter through the grievance procedure.

 

Updated Dec 11