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HR Policies For Volunteers

hr policies for volunteers

Volunteer management and coordinator communities are comprised of supportive people who always have new questions or issues! One hot topic among them is how to implement confidentiality policies for volunteers.

Employers should keep the following statements in mind when creating their volunteer policy; however, your policy must meet the unique needs of your organisation.

1. Background Checks

State and city laws often outline specific protocols regarding volunteer vetting procedures to work with vulnerable groups like children or the elderly, which must be observed to avoid lawsuits and steep fines for nonprofit organizations. Failing to follow such protocols could put your nonprofit at risk of lawsuits and fines of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Criminal background checks are an essential part of the screening process for volunteers, helping your organization ensure it recruits only individuals with no criminal records who can be trusted to work with your client base. They’re also an effective way to keep volunteers safe while keeping volunteer programs running smoothly.

Criminal background checks typically involve searching multiple sources, such as sexual offenders registries, civil court records and federal prison records. Comprehensive background check services offer all these searches at once for an affordable flat fee; applicants should be made aware what each check will include so they are properly prepared. It would also be beneficial to include a policy regarding who will cover any associated fees associated with it.

2. Orientation

When recruiting volunteers to participate in your project, host an orientation session. This allows you to introduce any policies that affect them while giving participants the chance to ask questions and give feedback.

At your volunteer orientation session, review general policies and procedures while paying special attention to those that impact volunteers – such as scheduling shifts and logging hours. Also take this chance to outline other training options available – perhaps shadowing an established volunteer is an option worth exploring!

At this stage, it is also beneficial to inform volunteers of any benefits that they might receive for their efforts, such as discounted merchandise or complimentary tickets to events. You could also use this time to communicate any requirements they must fulfill, such as attending specific events or hours per month. By setting clear expectations from the start, less headaches will arise in later years – saving your organization both time and resources in the process.

3. Training

“It is essential that all those managing volunteer programs receive adequate training,” Ellis states, noting that lack of experience working with volunteers could create problems in managing them effectively.

Agencies should provide training for new and current volunteers alike, while keeping employees and volunteer directors updated on what’s going on to avoid confusion over which policies apply to employees who volunteer.

Some organizations combine employee and volunteer handbooks into one manual to save time, but this could create safety issues.

Some medical facilities employ volunteers in patient-care positions at separate policies than those required of paid staff, sometimes more stringent guidelines for these volunteers than for paid staff – for instance requiring them to sign Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act agreements, undergo health screenings and undergo background checks – this may create confusion and tension between employees and volunteers. According to research from NRMC’s volunteers handbook or manual for employees who volunteer.

4. Evaluation

An effective policy helps volunteers understand their roles and reduce liability. Furthermore, having an outline to refer back to can give both employees and volunteers guidance in approaching work tasks together. A great policy should be easy and enjoyable to read with an easily accessible summary at the top for quick reference.

An evaluation process might seem strange to volunteers who freely give of their time and talent, but evaluation can send a powerful signal that your program takes their contributions seriously and values them. Evaluation also ensures that resources are being put towards building value instead of draining away.

As part of their volunteer duties, organizations should consider including time off or compensation policies related to volunteering – including flexible schedules and generous rewards – such as matching gifts programs or incentives for reaching certain volunteer milestones. It’s also crucial that volunteers regularly communicate with one another via monthly volunteer newsletters or meetings with HR or volunteer director. Finally, including volunteer management duties into paid staff who work with volunteers is recommended.

5. Termination

Termination can be an unnerving concept, due in large part to movies like Terminator which feature time-travelling killer robots. But sometimes letting go of volunteers who are underperforming or harming others may be necessary.

Though volunteers typically lack more options for discipline and termination than employees, an effective policy and consistent application are still key components of success. Include details about discipline policies and internal procedures as part of your volunteer orientation/training materials so expectations are clear from the outset.

Before terminating a volunteer who poses no threat to your mission, consider offering them the chance to transfer into another role that better matches their skills and personality.

Be mindful of changing antidiscrimination laws. Some states offer greater protection to volunteers, making it easier for them to claim wrongful termination. As such, be mindful to document the reasons for your decision and be ready to provide evidence if litigation ensues; you might also wish to keep records as future references so as to demonstrate an equitable process when terminating volunteers.

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