Team London Volunteer Recruitment Best Practice

Team London Volunteer Recruitment Best Practice

Team London requires all organisations who recruit volunteers through our website to agree to the Team London Best Practice guidelines. This outlines best practice for volunteer management in line with Greater London Volunteering and NCVO guidelines.

Team London Best Practice sets out what is expected of organisations who will be using Team London volunteers to support their projects, events and initiatives, and is designed to ensure that volunteers are supported, well managed, clear about their roles and responsibilities, and treated fairly.

Team London Best Practice Guidelines

  • Volunteers should only ever be involved because they add value and should not be used to replace paid staff or to reduce costs.
  • All volunteer roles should either help to create functions that would not exist in the absence of volunteers, or enhance an existing function in a way that would not happen without volunteers.
  • All volunteer roles should provide volunteers with high levels of satisfaction, and the chance to gain new or enhance existing skills and experiences.
  • Organisations must ensure that they provide appropriate volunteer insurance cover.
  • Volunteers should always receive an induction or introduction to the organisation and any training that is relevant to their role. This should ensure that volunteers understand their responsibilities and ensure they can carry out their role safely.
  • You should include Health & Safety, outline of roles and responsibilities, practicalities of the role and identify a contact in the organisation as well as support and supervision arrangements.
  • Wherever possible volunteers should be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses incurred while volunteering. This may include travel expenses or refreshments. The volunteer must always be informed before they start the role whether expenses are being reimbursed.  The volunteer role description should be transparent around this issue.
  • Organisations must provide access to an identified support person who will be the main point of contact for the volunteers. 
  • Organisations should have a problem solving procedure in place for when things go wrong. Find out more about putting these procedures in place here.
  • Transparency

To ensure volunteers are given appropriate information to make an informed decision about whether they would feel comfortable volunteering for you, organisations are asked to state clearly in their organisation’s description any religious, political or campaigning commitments or affiliations.

Are you sure this is a volunteer role?

Having taken guidance from NCVO, Team London ask that you consider the following questions when composing your volunteer role description:

  • Does this look like a job that someone should be paid to do?
  • Look at the expectations and level of responsibility involved. Is this a reasonable expectation of a volunteer?
  • Are you being clear that this is a voluntary role and that it is managed as such? The relationship between an organisation and a volunteer is different to the relationship with a member of staff ie. the volunteer can leave at any time and is under no obligation at all to achieve a certain number of hours or to achieve given targets. Managing a volunteer role like a staff role could result in inadvertently creating an employment contract. NCVO has more information on how to avoid this in their information sheet entitled 'Avoiding creating employment contracts' here.
  • Are you being clear about expectations? The role description and/or the induction should identify what volunteers can expect from the organisation eg training and support for their role, they should also be clear on what your expectations are of them.

If you have any queries or would like to discuss any aspect of your volunteer roles, please contact us.

Equalities and diversity

The Greater London Authority's equalities and diversity policy relating to volunteering is covered in our document, Equal Life Chances for All 2012.

Voluntary Internship Best Practice

Team London has worked closely with  NCVO and Greater London Volunteering to establish best practice on the recruitment of volunteer interns. 

To the right of this page are two documents from NCVO, which explain the current thinking around voluntary internships and how organisations may unintentionally create a ‘contract of employment’ with a volunteer.

The term ‘intern’ has no legal definition in UK employment law, and is widely used as a marketing tool to attract a certain audience. Interns are often paid Minimum Working Wage. 

For third sector organisations and charities, it is acceptable to offer an ‘unpaid internship’ as long as there is no profit being made by either the worker or organisation. However, in real terms there is no difference between  recruiting a ‘volunteer’ or a ‘voluntary intern’ when looking for a volunteer to assist with a more structured project.

Team London ask that you consider the following questions when composing your volunteer role description:

  • Does this look like a job that someone should be paid to do?
  • Look at the number of hours, targets, expectations , level of responsibility - is this a reasonable expectation of a volunteer?
  • Could you be unintentionally creating a contract of employment?
  • Are you being clear that this is a voluntary role, and that the volunteer can leave at any time and is under no obligation at all to achieve given targets?
  • Are you being transparent around training, benefits, reimbursement of expenses?
  • If you are satisfied that this is a role for a volunteer, Team London are happy to post the role. 

If you have any queries or would like to discuss any aspect of your volunteer roles, please contact us.

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