Thoughts into actions: Policies and proceduresBy Dawn Iverson | August 19th, 2010 | Category: FEATURE, GETTING STARTED, RECENT POSTS | No Comments »
Before you begin your recruitment, you will need to know how to structure that process and what policies and procedures you may need in place.
Outlined below is a list of suggested policies and procedures which may be helpful before starting the recruitment process. This is not a definitive list. Neither is this list set in stone. Each organization is different, with different requirements and a different client group. Take these as you need them.
1. Volunteer Policy
This is a policy stating your organization’s approach to involving volunteers. It can include statements on expenses, training, insurance and many other items. A Volunteer Policy can refer the reader towards the more detailed policies relevant to volunteers. This kind of policy is important to ensure that all members of the organization understand the reason for involving volunteers and how volunteers should expect to be managed. It can lay to rest any fears that staff may be replaced by volunteers and can describe how volunteers will assist the organization in its aims and targets. It can also contain some information on supported volunteering and why the organization believes that this is a service it should offer.
2. Volunteer Agreement
A Volunteer Agreement sets out what a volunteer can expect from the organization and what an organization can expect from its volunteers. It can include such things as induction and training, confidentiality, an agreement to abide by the organization’s policies and procedures and a commitment to regular supervision of volunteers. This document can be signed, but it is not expected to be, and nor should it be, a legally binding document. The agreement is binding in honour only. This point is a significant one, as it is important to ensure that you are not creating the impression of a contract of employment with your volunteer.
3. Code of Conduct
This document explains what is expected of volunteers with regards to conduct. It is useful when implementing a Code of Conduct, to marry this with some training on boundaries and appropriate behaviour. This will bring the Code of Conduct alive and allow volunteers to really understand the reasons for certain boundaries. If volunteers do not know what constitutes acceptable conduct, it is sometimes unreasonable to expect them to know what is unacceptable in the context of your organization. Remembering that volunteers could come from many different cultures and backgrounds with different social and cultural boundaries, a Code of Conduct can be a central guide to what an organization expects from all volunteers. This can be especially useful for those with Autism or learning difficulties who may find a list of ‘rules’ easier to understand than a ‘general rule of thumb’.
4. Confidentiality Policy
The need to keep personally identifiable information private is something that all volunteers should be aware of. A confidentiality policy simply explains what kinds of information are confidential and what a volunteer should do if they are unsure whether a piece of information can be shared. It is also worth noting in a confidentiality policy that this not only applies to information gained from clients / service users, but also applies to sensitive information about the organization itself and the staff and volunteers who work within it.
5. Health & Safety
The words Health & Safety may fill some people with dread, but a Health & Safety policy does not need to be over complicated and long. It can state who has overall responsibility for Health & Safety within the organization and also reiterate that each volunteer and staff member is responsible for Health & Safety. It can include some common guidelines, such as not touching electrical equipment with wet hands, checking a load before lifting it if necessary and keeping fire exits clear. It can also outline the procedure for reporting accidents and how often the Health & Safety policy will be reviewed.
6. Disciplinary & Grievance Policy and Procedure
If the case should arise, volunteers will need to know how to raise a grievance. You may also be faced with a situation which requires you to take a volunteer through a disciplinary process. These procedures should be in place before these incidents happen to ensure that both parties are aware of their rights and responsibilities and how the process is going to work.
It is especially important to look carefully at this policy before implementing a supported volunteering project. Are you confident that the whole procedure is open and fair to all? Is there an opportunity for someone with a learning disability to bring an advocate with them at each meeting for example? Is the procedure easily understandable for all members of the organization? It may be useful to produce a flowchart explaining the procedure to simplify the process.
7. Protection of Children & Vulnerable Adults
This is a policy which is very important if you either work with one of the above groups, or you wish to recruit volunteers who may be vulnerable adults. It is important that all members of the organization are aware of this policy and their responsibilities within it.
You can start with a statement of intent / the reason for this policy being in place. The policy can then outline the steps that the organization takes to ensure the protection of vulnerable groups. These steps can include the recruitment process. For example, requiring a CRB check for everyone who will have unsupervised contact with children, or that all volunteers are required to submit two references. It can explain the different types of abuse and the procedures to follow both if you suspect abuse, or if a vulnerable person discloses to you that they have been abused.
Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults is an area which some volunteers can find quite daunting at first. Having a policy in place which volunteers can refer to when needed can be a good way of helping with that anxiety.
8. Equality & Diversity
All of the policies and procedures above should comply with the organization’s own Equality and Diversity policy or statement. This does not need to be an in-depth policy covering many pages, but can simply be a statement of intent. Volunteers should be aware of this policy, what it means, and what their responsibilities are to ensure the policy is implemented.
9. Lone Working Policy and Lone Working risk assessments
In some circumstances, volunteers may work in an organization’s premises or in the community alone. It is good practice to have a Lone Working Policy to cover this eventuality and to ensure that volunteers are aware of how to keep themselves safe. This policy could include guidelines such as making sure appointments are scheduled in a team calendar so that someone will always know where the volunteer is, or a volunteer making sure that they carry an attack alarm with them when leaving the office on dark evenings.
Lone working risk assessments should be individual rather than an organization using one risk assessment for all volunteers. This is especially important when dealing with volunteers with support needs. Risk assessments should ask whether there are any health reasons which would affect the type of lone working a volunteer could do, whether they feel comfortable driving through the area in darkness or whether they keep a mobile telephone with them at all times.
10. Activity risk assessments
This is not a policy as such, but merely a reminder that general day to day risk assessments may need to be updated for volunteers with support needs. For example, do you have a risk assessment for fire evacuation procedures with someone in a wheelchair? Have you ensured that you have gone through a fire drill with a volunteer with Learning Disabilities so they can familiarize themselves with the sound of the alarm and what to do when it sounds? Have you ensured that you have had an orientation session with someone with limited visibility? Individual risk assessments may need to be completed to ensure that volunteers are safe and are given the opportunity to do the role they have applied for.
If you have most or all of these policies, then the only question you need to ask yourself is whether they are open and accessible to all. Accessible includes the use of language, the format of the document as well as making sure any procedures do not discriminate against volunteers due to their support needs.
Once these are in place, recruiting volunteers is the next step!
Image Credit: Ecstaticist