The purpose of this policy is to provide overall guidance and direction to the setting up and running of a Staff Volunteering Scheme at Aston. Overall policy will be the responsibility of the Executive Team, as advised by the Head of the Centre for Staff and Graduate Development and the Staff Volunteering Coordinator.
Please read these two documents before completing the Registration Form and if you agree to work within the terms outlined within the two documents, please indicate this on your from. Accepting the terms is a requirement if you wish to become a member of the Staff Volunteering Scheme.
The Head of the Centre for Staff and Graduate Development will:
- Establish and maintain an overview of all staff volunteering activity to ensure that best practice is being applied and that appropriate, local communities are being served.
- Agree a range of key performance indicators to assess outputs and outcomes (currently included in the Aston People Strategy)
- Ensure that appropriate procedures are in place to support volunteers, including their development and safe working
- Receive and review an annual report on the Staff Volunteering Programme
This policy applies to all Aston University Staff Volunteers, in all projects approved by the University and to any brokerage service offered to local community groups who wish to recruit volunteers directly.
Definition of a Staff Volunteer
In this context, a staff volunteer is an employee of Aston University who, without compensation, other than the reimbursement of expenses, engages in tasks, approved by the University, to the benefit of the local community, including the University itself. For external activities, a volunteer must be registered with the University and have attended an induction session, covering health and safety issues, rights and responsibilities and staff development opportunities.
Link with External Organisations
Volunteering opportunities will normally be with organisations which have charitable status and which have registered with the university as a “volunteering partner”. In the short term they will also be organizations which impact upon communities in the immediate vicinity of the Aston campus (no wider than the geographical area falling under the control of Birmingham City Council).
External organisations will normally need to fulfil the following requirements in order to become a volunteering partner:
- Adequate insurance cover for volunteers
- Appropriate health and safety procedures including risk assessments, the provision of safe equipment and safety clothing
- Funding for reasonable expenses incurred by volunteers, e.g. travel
- Effective supervision
- A commitment to equal opportunities.
Volunteer Rights and Responsibilities
The University regards volunteering as a key contributor to its strategic aims within “Aston 2012”. Volunteers will be given support and guidance to ensure that:
- Volunteering opportunities are broad and contribute meaningfully to local communities
- Volunteers are provided with placements which match their skills and interests
- Appropriate induction and training is provided
- Appropriate safety equipment and clothing is provided
- Risk assessments are carried out and publicized
- Appropriate supervision and review mechanisms are in place
- Any special needs of volunteers are identified.
Volunteers will be asked to enter into a volunteer agreement (The Volunteer Charter) which will set out the University’s and the individual’s responsibilities, including confidentiality issues. External organisations may wish to establish the suitability of volunteers by, for example, interviewing candidates. Staff Volunteers may also be required to undergo prescribed training provided by the external organisation, intended to equip volunteers to carry out their role effectively and safely.
Paid Time Off for Registered Volunteers
The University has agreed that staff who are registered under the Staff Volunteering Scheme will be eligible for a basic allocation of the equivalent of 2 working days paid time off each year, to undertake approved volunteering work. A further provision of up to 2 working days per annum may be granted, subject to the member of staff matching any additional amount from their annual leave or accrued flexi-leave. A record of time off will be kept by the Staff Volunteer Co-Ordinator, and the appropriate line manager. Paid time off will always be subject to the agreement of the line manager and will be subject to the needs of the School/Department.
It is likely that some local volunteering activity could be undertaken during a lunch or extended lunch time period or before/after work. Volunteers will not be reimbursed for any of their free time they may wish to devote to such activities. Paid time off may be calculated in annualised hours which would equate to 15 hours per annum (pro-rated for part-time staff), for the basic provisions and 7.5 hours for each additional day. From time to time, the Executive may approve a special Community Challenge type activity for which additional paid time off may be approved, beyond the normal annual provision, usually no more than two days.
Volunteer Training and Development
All volunteers participating in the programme will be expected to agree to the terms of this policy and the Vounteer Charter prior to participating in the scheme. The Staff Volunteering Coordinator can also clarify expectations and responsibilities, consider health and safety issues, and discuss the possibility of further personal development that may be gained through involvement in the scheme.
For those volunteers interested in gaining recognition of their development through volunteering work, there will be the possibility of enrolling on credit-bearing modules offered through the Lifelong Learning Centre/Centre for Staff and Graduate Development.
Criminal Record Bureau Checks
Some external organisations, for example, those working with children or vulnerable adults may require their volunteers to undergo Criminal Record Bureau checks. Such checks will normally be carried out by the external organisation itself.
Reimbursement of Expenses
Volunteers will be eligible for reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred whilst undertaking approved volunteering activities. These should normally be claimed from the external organisation, but any problems should be raised with the Staff Volunteering Co-ordinator (SVC).
The University, through the SVC, will ensure that all external organisations using Aston Staff Volunteers have appropriate and adequate insurance cover in place. The University also has employer and public liability insurance cover.
Recognition of Staff Volunteering Activity
The University recognises Staff Volunteering activity as a key part of delivering its “Culture and Values” strategic strand. Volunteering will, therefore, be recognised by being explicitly included in the criteria for academic promotion and performance related pay for all staff. An individual’s Performance Development Review (PDR) would also be an appropriate opportunity to discuss volunteering opportunities there will also be an annual celebratory event for staff volunteers.
The University commits to:
Support all volunteers to fulfil personal and professional aims connected to volunteering within the remit of the scheme.
Offer support, information and feedback that is clear and useful from initial registration of interest, throughout the placement and after a placement ends.
Never pressurise staff to take a placement or commit more time than they feel comfortable giving.
Provide access to initial and ongoing training to establish, maintain and develop skills needed for each volunteer role.
Respect, value and listen to the needs of all volunteers.
Ensure and monitor that all organisations meet the appropriate standards i.e. meet health and safety requirements, have adequate insurance cover and all placements have been risk assessed.
Provide information on organisations that offer volunteer placements.
Continually evaluate the scheme and placements in order to offer volunteers the best possible experience.
Support volunteers through any problems or concerns they may have regarding a placement.
High equal opportunities standards. Volunteers are encouraged to identify any requirements they may have or adaptations they may need in order to make volunteering opportunities accessible to them.
Volunteers to agree to:
Be aware that whilst on volunteering placements staff are present as employees of Aston University and therefore all of the Aston University Policies and Procedures must still be adhered to.
Carry out placements within health and safety and risk assessment guidelines as specified by the voluntary organisation and/or Aston University.
Be clear about availability and give notice if this changes.
Give reasonable notice if withdrawing from a voluntary placement or from the scheme in general.
Report accidents, incidents and problems to the designated person at the placement and to the Staff Volunteering team.
Address any complaints about a placement or the Staff Volunteering Scheme to the Staff Volunteering Team or if inappropriate to Dr Ann Hartley, Head of Staff and Graduate Development.
Maintain confidentiality procedures. Discuss information of a confidential nature only with the designated person of the organisation.
When working with young people and vulnerable adults to maintain professional boundaries in-line with the specific rules of the volunteer organisation and within Aston’s employment guidelines.
Attend training where possible and support other volunteers.
Complete the Staff Volunteering Registration form indicating you have read and agreed to the terms of the Staff Volunteering Charter and Staff Volunteering Policy.