Staff volunteering guidelines

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 community organisations

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide a framework within which employees and management can agree volunteering opportunities. The guidelines must be read in conjunction with the staff volunteering policy.

See volunteering ideas on the Career Centre webpages which provides different types of voluntary groups and their current opportunities.  You might want to join Brookes Volunteering and Careers and Employment Centre Volunteering Facebook pages for the most up-to-dated information on the volunteering opportunities and events taking place at the University and in Oxfordshire.

Benefits of volunteering

Volunteering can benefit both the University and the employee. University benefits can include:

  • Improved reputation
  • Improved recruitment and retention
  • Enhanced team working
  • Increased employee moral and work performance
  • Training and development opportunities for employees that supplement those available within the University
  • An exchange of ideas and knowledge transfer

Employee benefits can include:

  • Opportunities for training and development
  • An enhanced CV
  • Improved motivation and morale
  • Increased awareness of, and engagement with, community issues

Types of volunteering

The University is equally willing to consider applications from individual employees and from groups or teams of staff who wish to undertake a joint volunteering activity. Where the volunteering activity is undertaken as a team building event staff will not be expected to match a days volunteering with a days leave of their own.

The following list provides examples of types of activity that can be undertaken but is not intended to be exhaustive:

  • Team projects: e.g. painting a community centre
  • School liaison: reading, mentoring pupils
  • Prison/hospital/remand centre/immigration centre visiting
  • Community support: e.g. Youth Clubs, conservation work, cleaning the riverbank, etc.
  • Providing consultancy using professional skills
  • Editing/publishing community newspapers/newsletter

For other volunteering ideas visit: 

Considerations for employees and managers

When applying for, or authorising, a particular volunteering activity employees and managers should take into account the following considerations:

  • Any volunteering activity must not bring the University into disrepute
  • There is no conflict of interest with the University or its activities
  • The activity is appropriate for the employee(s) concerned
  • The environment will be a safe one for the employee(s) (see guidance on risk assessment in the staff volunteering policy)
  • The opportunity for improved team/inter-departmental cohesion and team development
  • The potential for improved communication and understanding within and between groups of staff from different Faculties/Directorates, campuses and levels of seniority
  • If an enhanced DBS check is necessary it is the responsibility of the individual(s) and/or the volunteering organisation to ensure it takes place.

Additional information for volunteers

Employees who undertake volunteering activities under the auspices of this policy are ambassadors for the University and as such have a responsibility to:

  • Recognise that they represent the University and act accordingly
  • Give the University and the organisation appropriate and reasonable notice if they wish to cancel a volunteering activity
  • Declare to the University and the voluntary organisation if there is any conflict of interest
  • Be committed to the volunteering activity they undertake
  • Be reliable and arrive on time
  • Let the organisation know if they are going to be late for a volunteering activity
  • Do what is requested (within reason)
  • Offer a good quality of service to the volunteering organisation
  • Act within any guidelines or policies laid down by the volunteering organisation
  • Make every effort to attend any training required to enable them to undertake a particular activity
  • Treat as confidential any sensitive/personal information obtained through volunteering work
  • Only provide advice when volunteering on a management committee or in professional advisory capacity. The final decision and use of advice will lie with the host organisation.

Volunteers have the right to:

  • A safe environment
  • Receive proper induction from the organisation they are working for
  • Be covered by appropriate insurance
  • Have what is expected of them clearly explained
  • Know who they are working with and who is ‘in charge’ of their role, and to receive support and supervision from that person
  • Confidentiality
  • Be treated with respect
  • Have problems or difficulties listened to and have action taken
  • Say ‘no’ if they feel they have been asked to do something that isn’t part of their role or that they feel is unacceptable for other reasons.


Updated Dec 11