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 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 summary of volunteering arrangements and responsibilities. More detailed information is contained in the  University’s volunteering guidelines.

The leave provisions set out 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 provision for leave for staff volunteering and to provide a framework for the application process. It has been designed to enable members of staff to be proactive in identifying suitable voluntary activities that benefit the individual, the University and our communities.

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 and cannot be applied retrospectively to past volunteering activities.

From the academic year 2018/19, all colleagues will be granted one day of paid leave for volunteering; this day can be used in full or split into hours. The day(s) selected and the activities undertaken need to be discussed and agreed with their line manager. Guidelines are provided here. This day cannot be used for other purposes. If, for reasons beyond the employee’s control, the volunteering activity does not go ahead as planned, a request can be made for an alternative date.

In addition to this, colleagues may apply for an additional 16 hours of paid leave per year (or pro rata for colleagues who work part-time) to participate in voluntary activities. The hours allocated should also cover travel to and from the volunteering activity. To receive the additional leave employees will be expected to commit some of their own leave and match the contribution offered by the University. Thus, for every hour of annual leave provided by the University, the employee will have to match that with an hour of their own leave. So, for instance, to get a further 8 hours of volunteering leave, the employee has to use 8 hours of their own annual leave; to get a further 3 hours of volunteering leave, the employee has to use 3 hours of their own annual leave; and so on.

In all case, 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 but permission will not be unreasonably withheld.

Process

Employees interested in staff volunteering should complete the volunteering application form and risk assessment form (see risk assessment section below) (see risk assessment section below) and submit it to their line manager at least 3 weeks before the volunteering activity is due to take place. The line manager will normally reply to the request for leave within 7 days of the request being made.

Managers should give careful 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.

In addition, line managers should take care to ensure that the granting of volunteering leave does not impact adversely on other colleagues, and that the time requested for volunteering is reflected in the staff member’s workload.

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. This must be 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 evaluation at least two weeks before the volunteering activity is due to take place. Volunteering leave will not be granted unless this form has been completed to the satisfaction of HR.

DBS check

In situations where the volunteer 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. The cost of the DBS check should be met by the volunteer organisation.

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, for example as part of the annual PDR discussion.

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.

 

Updated December 2018