Much H&S legislation applies only to paid workers but, the Health & Safety At Work (etc) Act 1974, imposes a duty on every employer:
“ to ensure, as far as reasonably practical, that persons not in their employment, who may be affected by their undertaking, are not exposed to risks to their health and safety” and “to give information as might affect their health or safety” = VOLUNTEERS
There are legal consequences for organisations/trustees if volunteers are exposed to serious risks AND a moral duty – not justifiable to treat volunteers worse than paid staff
A H&S policy is the foundation on which to develop relevant procedures and practices. An organisation must have one if have more than 5 employees but it is also good practice to write one and include it in induction of volunteers.
Non domestic premises e.g. community buildings, village halls (incl. attached car parks/play areas) obliged to keep premises and equipment safe. This includes safe exit routes and minimum standards to reduce fire risk.
Written fire risk assessment needed for all orgs with more than 6 employees
Duty to assess risks caused by hazardous substances e.g. bleach and small children
Voluntary groups with no staff are not bound to do first aid assessment but is good practice. Exceptions would include e.g. fireworks display, charity run etc
Health – this can be caused by faulty equipment, working with hazardous substances, working in surroundings that are unsafe, poor training and not being aware of risk
Personal Safety – caused by dangerous situations and not being prepared, aware or trained
Emotional Distress – caused by dealings with aggressive clients, difficult situations (working with elderly or vulnerable youngsters, terminally ill) and not having adequate training/support
Personal Integrity – working in situations that could expose the volunteers to misunderstandings or accusations. Not having adequate training to raise their awareness of this possibility or dealing with it effectively.
Whilst volunteers aren’t covered by employment legislation, it can be possible for some volunteers to be seen as workers or employees in the eyes of the law. The key issue is whether or not there is a contract in place: A contract does not have to be a written document or even a verbal agreement it is a description of a relationship
Consideration - money or something of value (training for example)
intention (was there an intention to create a binding agreement?)
If a contract is created between an organisation and its volunteers, it is likely to be one that changes the legal status of volunteers to that of workers or employees
someone who carries out work while under a contract for someone else but not continuous service (e.g. casual workers)
are covered by the anti-discrimination legislation, the national minimum wage act and the working time directive
an individual who has entered into or works under a contract of employment And which can be determined by “criteria tests”
Control test –Is the person subject to rules and procedures?
Mutuality of obligation test – obligation to both provide/do work
Has additional rights: not to be unfairly dismissed, to sick pay, to belong to a trade union etc
There is no legal definition of the word ‘volunteer’. However, the definition of volunteering used in the ‘2005 Compact Code of Good Volunteering Practice’ is "an activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something which aims to benefit the environment or individuals or groups other than or in addition to close relatives" .
Stop Press!!!!!! Vetting and Barring Scheme registration halted!
So what has happened so far? From 12 October 2009 , new laws were made to help prevent unsuitable people from undertaking paid or volunteer work with children or vulnerable adults: It is a criminal offence for barred individuals to apply to work with children or vulnerable adults. Employers face criminal sanctions for knowingly employing a barred individual. The three previous barring lists (POVA, POCA and List 99) were replaced by the creation of two new barred lists: the Adults List and the Childrens’ List . Since October, checks of these two lists have been made as part of an Enhanced CRB check It was determined that (in relation to vulnerable groups) activities should be regulated and controlled
It is a criminal offence for barred individuals to apply to work with children or vulnerable adults.
Employers face criminal sanctions for knowingly employing a barred individual.
Employers, local authorities, professional regulators and inspection bodies have a duty to refer to the ISA any information on an individual working with the vulnerable where they consider them to have caused harm or pose a risk.
Additional jobs and voluntary positions are covered by the barring arrangements, including moderators of children's internet chat rooms, and a large number of NHS staff