Our fourth deadly sin is FORMALITY and I’m not talking about being overly formal about how you deal with people, but the dangers of creating contracts with your volunteers, by formalising your roles and enforcing conditions on volunteering.
Before I expand on this particular sin, I would like to say huge thanks to my lovely ex-colleague, Kevin Priest, as his recent email gave me the idea for this blog post!
At first glance creating a contract may not seem like a deadly sin. Do any of the following apply to you and your organisation?
- Do volunteers work for you?
- Do you pay them fixed amounts, rather than just out-of-pocket expenses?
- Do they sign a contract and attend set hours/days per week?
- Do you use the words ‘job’ or ‘work’ in your documentation for your volunteers?
- Do your volunteers have to submit holiday forms?
- Do you give your volunteers financial perks, such as a Christmas bonus?
- Does training have to be completed within a fixed period or does the volunteer have to commit to a fixed number of hours or have to repay training costs?
If the answer to any of these is YES, do you realise you may be open to legal action?
I actually deliver a training session entitled ‘Volunteers and the Law’ for those who involve volunteers and it’s very popular. We can guide people through the potential pitfalls of creating a contract and look at five legal case studies, where disgruntled volunteers have taken organisations to court, in some cases being awarded employment rights and the organisation concerned being liable for a considerable pay out in some cases.
If you need help or advice on how to avoid creating a contract with your volunteers, please contact the Volunteer Centre or maybe attend the training session on ‘Volunteers and the law’
I need help!
The Volunteer Centre can help you with any area of good practice when involving volunteers, so please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or 01384 573381 and ask for Eileen