Leave, absence & working arrangements
Volunteering - Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) Policy
Loughborough University plays a leading role in the economic, social and cultural development of the region and aims to build on relationships with the local community. The University has introduced an employer supported volunteering policy as part of its commitment to community engagement and corporate social responsibility. It is intended to support, encourage and develop employees by facilitating their involvement in volunteering opportunities within the community and for charitable organisations. Voluntary activities should be of mutual benefit to the employee, the University and the community. This policy applies to all substantive members of Loughborough University staff, in all projects approved by the University.
This document provides a comprehensive summary of volunteering allowances and responsibilities. The volunteering allowances detailed in this policy are not additional to those included in the University policy for public duties.
The provisions of this policy are at the discretion of the University and do not form a contractual entitlement in whole or in part.
The aim of this policy is to enable and support members of staff to be proactive in voluntary activities that mutually benefit the individual, the University and the community. It seeks to inform employees and managers of the levels of discretionary allowance applicable to employer supported volunteering.
The University defines a staff volunteer as an employee of Loughborough University who is supported to engage in projects, approved by the University, to the benefit of the local community, and the University itself. These activities are undertaken freely and are not for financial gain by the individual or the University
- The policy applies to substantive employees only (i.e. it is not applicable to those on zero hours and casual contracts).
- Staff are eligible to apply for up to one working day (one day paid absence) each year (or pro-rata for staff who work part time) to undertake approved volunteer work.
- A record of time off will be kept by the appropriate line manager.
- Employer supported volunteering will always be subject to the prior agreement of the line manager and will reflect the needs of the school or department.
- It is noted and understood that many staff may well be volunteering significant amounts in their own time. This is welcome but is separate from this scheme which concerns the provision of time off within working hours. Volunteers will not be reimbursed for any of their free time they may wish to devote to such activities.
- In the event of a department or school deciding to organise a group volunteering activity, the responsible manager may exceptionally grant permission to approve additional time off, beyond the normal annual provision of one day, to enable the attendance of all employees within the department or school.
- The release of employees from work to participate in voluntary work must be balanced against the other demands and priorities of the department or school and as such, time off for this purpose is not an entitlement.
- Time allowances cannot be carried forward from one academic year to the next.
Staff interested in employer supported volunteering must complete the Employer Supported Volunteering Application Form.
- This should be submitted to their line manager in good time for approval before the volunteering activity is due to take place, normally a minimum of 4 weeks.
- Managers will consider each case on merits in light of the University’s policy to support granting of time for this activity, except in cases where there are departmental or work reasons where this is not appropriate.
- Managers should give serious consideration to all requests and should manage voluntary activities as flexibly as possible. There may be work or operational reasons for refusing a request which the manager should clearly communicate to the employee as soon as possible. In these circumstances, line managers and employees should discuss whether an alternative activity or time could be arranged.
- As part of the application process, it is the responsibility of the staff member to ensure the organisation hosting the volunteering activity has completed the Volunteering Activity Provider Checklist before submission.
- Applicants are required to attach a signed and dated risk assessment, provided by the host organisation, to their application form before submission.
- Applicants should ensure the external organisation will follow appropriate health and safety procedures and if necessary, provide safe equipment, safety clothing and effective supervision. Applicants should also ensure they receive a health and safety induction on the day and are aware of the emergency evacuation procedure, where the nearest First Aid box is and who on the premises is First Aid trained.
- Once the volunteering activity has been agreed, the signed and completed forms should be sent to the line manager.
For large group projects within a department or school, authorisation will be given by the line manager and a single approval process will be needed. A risk assessment should be signed by all participants which will be kept for future reference; however participants will not need to fill out individual application forms for these organised projects. Further instructions can be found on the application form online.
Conduct whilst volunteering
Staff undertaking volunteering activities approved by the University are reminded that they would be representing the University and are therefore bound by its policies and procedures in relation to their conduct and behaviour.
Risk assessments are needed to ensure the organisations running the volunteering activities are fulfilling their duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their volunteers. The University requires that a risk assessment be completed and attached to all volunteering application forms. It is the responsibility of the volunteering organisation named on the application form to undertake the risk assessment. No leave will be granted unless this form has been completed satisfactorily.
In situations where the volunteer is required to have substantial contact with young people or vulnerable adults (e.g. elderly people, adults with a learning disability), it is likely that they will need a current enhanced DBS check. It is the responsibility of the volunteering organisation and/or the individual employee to identify whether this check would be necessary and ensure that this has been undertaken before they commence any volunteering activity. DBS checks can be obtained from the HR department or Loughborough Students’ Union Action, if required.
On completion of the volunteering activity the member of staff will be asked to answer three simple questions which will be returned to the line manager in order for the department, school, HR or the University to review the benefits of volunteering.
- What volunteer work was undertaken and what were the benefits to the organisation or beneficiaries involved?
- Please indicate the learning and development opportunities that you encountered from being part of this volunteering project.
- Please comment on how you found the employer supported volunteering scheme and any ideas you have for how it could be improved.
Loughborough University reserves the right to refuse employees’ requests to change their working arrangements to volunteer outside work. A request may be refused if it is believed, for example, that:
- there will be a detrimental impact on the needs of the employee’s department or school,
- work within the department or school cannot be rearranged to accommodate the employee’s requested hours,
- the employee’s individual performance levels are likely to suffer.
However, if staff feel that they have been unreasonably refused the right to volunteer, they should raise the matter with their line manager and inform their HR representative. They can also consult with their union and have the right to raise the matter through the grievance procedure.