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If an organisation does decide to take up references or a DBS check, they must explain clearly the reasons for this and the procedures involved. They must ensure that there is a legal need for a DBS check. Please contact us if you need any advice on this.

It is important to have in place a clear procedure for introducing new volunteers. A new volunteer should be made to feel welcomed and valued, have a clear idea of the job they will be doing, how often they will be needed and for how long and whether training is on offer. Training may be a formal course with other volunteers or ‘on the job’ while working alongside paid staff or volunteers.

The question of expenses will need to be clarified and procedures for claiming explained. It may be necessary to meet telephone and postage costs if a volunteer will be working from home and to supply the necessary equipment to do the role as agreed. For smaller groups that fund themselves, expenses may be difficult to offer but it is important that no volunteer should be out of pocket through doing voluntary work.

Support or more formal supervision should be available to every volunteer with opportunities to discuss problems and to review the work and make changes of necessary. Any changes should be discussed and agreed with the volunteer and paid staff working with them.

A volunteer must not be expected to work in unsafe or unhealthy conditions. They should be provided with any necessary protective clothing, such as overalls of gloves for gardening or decorating. Procedures regarding fire drill and accidents should be clearly explained. If a volunteer is visiting a client at home there can be a risk. Do make proper appointments for volunteers and follow up if necessary. This is for the protection of the client as well as the volunteer. For some voluntary work it may be appropriate to provide safe transport after dark, provide personal alarms or make training available in handling difficult situations such as verbal abuse or aggressive behaviour.

Everyone has the right to volunteer, Irrespective of age, race, Gender, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, ethnicity or  religious belief.

It is equally important to ensure that your volunteers have a clear understanding of the meaning of equal opportunities in regard to service users, colleagues and other members of your organisation.

Volunteer Job Description

We request that as far as possible, all organisations should draw up a clear and written job description for each
voluntary job. The job description should contain a brief outline of the aims and objectives of the organisation.
The job description should also be discussed and agreed with the volunteer and any paid staff the volunteer will
be working with.

The job description should:

 Define clearly the duties and responsibilities of the volunteer

 Give the volunteer status and a reference point for support and development

 Ensure that the volunteer knows to whom they are responsible to

 Clarify practical details such as insurance, expenses, hours of work, length of commitment, probationary period, holiday entitlement

 Explain opportunities for support, supervision and training

 Define grievance and disciplinary procedures of your organisation

 State the organisations Equal Opportunity Policy

 Volunteers should not be asked to undertake tasks which have not been previously agreed.

Voluntary work can be particular helpful for people who are in receipt of invalidity, sickness benefit or unemployed. It can provide the experience necessary to find work or be a means or gradually preparing to return to a full time paid job. Benefits should not be affected when someone undertakes voluntary work.

Job Seekers Allowance - Voluntary work will not stop you getting Job Seekers Allowance or affect the amount you get provided you are available for full time work and actively seeking work.

Income Support - Voluntary work will not usually stop you getting Income Support or affect the amount you get paid


You are actively seeking work and you remain available for paid work at least 24 hour a week OR

You are not required to be available for work because for example you are pensioner or lone parent

Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance - These benefits cannot normally be paid to people who are working but you may be able to do some voluntary work totalling no more than an average of less than 16 hours a week.

Disability Living Allowance - This benefit is not affected by voluntary work.

It is wise to advise volunteers to let their local social security office know if they intend to do voluntary work. If they experience any problems, be prepared to support and help them through this. From experience some Benefits Agency staff are not very clear about the regulations themselves or can be unwilling to help.