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Volunteers Policy

Download Evolve Housing 'Volunteers' Policy (PDF)

Contents

1. Purpose
2. Scope
3. Definitions
4. Policy statement
4.1 Rights and responsibilities
4.2 Volunteers responsibilities to Evolve Housing
4.3 Recognition of volunteers in the workplace
4.4 Payments made to volunteers
4.5 Volunteers personal insurance
4.6 Poor performance
4.7 Volunteer dismissal
4.8 Volunteer resignation
5. Responsibilities
6. Related resources
7. Where to get more information

1. Purpose

Evolve Housing is a registered, New South Wales, community housing provider. In addition to providing housing, Evolve Housing endeavors to focus on the implementation of its community engagement plan, whereby tenants are involved in activities designed to improve their living skills and social inclusion. 

As a result, Evolve Housing has a strategic framework for engagement through community linkages, alliances with strategic partners and development of new initiatives aimed at increasing tenant economic empowerment while building stronger communities.

A considerable amount of the work involved in setting up and running these activities falls upon volunteers, who are usually sourced from those persons living within Evolve Housing properties. 

The aim of this policy is to identify who is a volunteer and to define their legal position while assisting Evolve Housing in these activities.

As an employer of staff, Evolve Housing has responsibilities under the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011, (WHS Act), including a primary duty of care to ensure the health and safety of volunteers, work experience students and other workers (staff) under the WHS Act. 

(The New South Wales Government, Work Health and Safety Act 2011, has changed the term “employer” to “persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)". This is a new term within the Act.) 

This policy is inclusive of work experience students.

2. Scope

This policy applies to Evolve Housing volunteers, work experience students and other staff.

3. Definitions

The term "volunteer" refers to Volunteering Australia’s definition of formal volunteering. Formal volunteering is an activity which takes place through not-for-profit organisations or projects and is undertaken:

  • To be of benefit to the community and the volunteer.
  • Of the volunteer’s own free will and without coercion.
  • For no financial payment and in designated volunteer positions only.

Other definitions:

  • Applicant – the person who makes the formal application for housing assistance
  • Tenant – the person who signs the Residential Tenancy Agreement with Evolve Housing
  • Resident – a person who lives in the property on a permanent basis
  • Spouse – a husband or wife considered in relation to their partner
  • Household members – all people living in the home regardless of age or relationship

4. Policy statement

Evolve Housing is committed to upholding the rights and working conditions of volunteers, work experience students and staff.

Volunteers help Evolve Housing in the delivery of valuable services and benefits to tenants and their families. It is an unpaid activity and is not undertaken for the receipt of a salary, pension, government allowance or honorarium.

Volunteering is a matter of choice and is a way in which tenants may participate in the activities of the Evolve Housing community.  Volunteers do not replace paid workers nor constitute a threat to the job security of paid workers.  They are to respect the rights, dignity and culture of others and promote human rights and equality.

When the need for a volunteer position within Evolve Housing is identified, staff should complete a volunteer position description and provide the following information in writing:

  • Name of the Housing/Assets Manager making the request.
  • Background information pertaining to the relevance and need for the volunteer’s position.
  • A list of the tasks required of the volunteer.
  • Duration of the position and time commitment.
  • Desirable skills required to carry out the tasks.

Once the volunteer/s is selected, they will then be given a tour of the work area and introduced to all available staff members.  Volunteers will be given an induction relevant to the type of work they will be expected to perform. Staff will be informed as to the volunteer’s duties and who they will be working with.

4.1 Rights and responsibilities of volunteer staff

Evolve Housing volunteers have a right to:

  • Receive adequate information and a clear job description of what is expected and to understand why they are doing a task, including how it fits into the broader programme.
  • Be assigned a suitable project, task or job and to say no to tasks they are unable to do, or would rather not do and to receive a new job.
  • To have on the job supervision provided by a designated staff member.
  • Receive respect and support from their co-workers as well as recognition and feedback from their supervisor for their work.
  • Be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses, providing prior approval is obtained with their supervisor.
  • Request a reference from their supervisor when applying for a job, providing the volunteer has worked at Evolve Housing for a minimum period of three months.
  • Provide feedback, suggestions and recommendations regarding their job or the wider program.
  • Have their personal details kept in a confidential manner.
  • Work in a safe and healthy environment free from harassment, bullying or discrimination.
  • Be provided with a place to work and the equipment to carry out the work.
  • Be adequately insured.

4.2 Volunteers responsibilities to Evolve Housing

Evolve Housing asks our volunteers to agree to:

  • Be reliable and commit, where possible, to regular hours or day/s and time of work so tasks can be planned accordingly.
  • Be responsible to and consult with their supervisor.
  • To ask for support when needed.
  • Agree to do job training necessary to carry out the duties as stated in their position description.
  • Abide by any Evolve Housing policies regarding their work.
  • Appreciate and respect the confidential nature of information that may be acquired during course of duties.
  • Discuss any grievances or problems with their supervisor. If they remain unresolved, to speak with a manager.
  • Not to spend money or order goods on behalf of Evolve Housing without prior approval.
  • Notify their supervisor or a manager if they are no longer able to work with Evolve Housing.
  • Show enthusiasm, loyalty and belief in the work of the organisation.
  • Contribute to a safe and healthy environment free from harassment, bullying or discrimination.
  • Inform Evolve Housing of any pre-existing medical conditions or special needs that Evolve Housing should be aware of that might affect the volunteer’s ability to undertake certain tasks.
  • Report any injury immediately to their supervisor.
  • To comply with Evolve Housing non-smoking requirements.
  • To treat all clients and staff with dignity, courtesy and respect.

4.3 Recognition of volunteers in the workplace

All Evolve Housing staff are to treat volunteers with respect and support. Staff are accountable for volunteers under their supervision and must be present while their volunteers are in the workplace.  No volunteer should ever be in an Evolve Housing office unsupervised.

Volunteers are to be included where possible, in all relevant staff meetings, discussions and celebrations.  Volunteers should be given every opportunity to develop their skills to enhance their own skill base.  Long term volunteers, who have provided regular voluntary assistance for more than six months, are to be included in staff training sessions whenever possible.

Volunteers who have provided long-term support to Evolve Housing will have their annual anniversaries acknowledged and where possible celebrated.  Volunteer’s contributions will be recognised in newsletters when ever possible.  Get-togethers will be organised and birthdays recognised.

All volunteer’s personal information will be treated with confidentiality. Volunteers are to be encouraged to develop and expand their personal skills to maintain and enhance Evolve Housing’s effectiveness. Specific training for volunteers will be provided where appropriate and financially possible.

4.4 Payments made to volunteers

Payments for direct out of pocket expenses such as travel, meals and incidentals, incurred directly when carrying out volunteer work are not regarded as wages or salary. Prior approval from the Community Engagement Coordinator must be obtained and appropriate documentation and receipts must be presented.

Where a volunteer has been approved by the Community Engagement Coordinator to use their own vehicle for Evolve Housing’s business, the volunteer shall be paid a vehicle allowance in accordance with the going rate paid to staff members.

4.5 Volunteers personal insurance

Evolve Housing will ensure that volunteers have a safe working environment.  This is known as a “duty of care.”  Volunteers are expected in return to accept their responsibility to work safely, with intelligence, common sense and foresight.

Volunteers are to report any injury immediately to their supervisor who should record the injury in the office “accident/incident record book” and to the People and Culture Manager. Evolve Housing will ensure all relevant insurance coverage for workers are paid and up to date.

4.6 Poor performance

Should the volunteer display poor performance in their designated role, the following procedure should follow:

  1. First warning, the volunteer should be notified verbally of their poor performance and a record made.  The record should be kept by the supervisor for 12 months.
  2. If a second warning is necessary, the matter should be discussed with the volunteer who will be advised in writing to improve their work performance and that a further period of review has been set.
  3. If the problem continues, the volunteer will be interviewed by a supervisor and given a final written warning.
  4. In the event of the problem recurring after the final warning, the volunteer may be asked to cease volunteering for Evolve Housing. 
  5. The volunteer may ask to have the matter reviewed by a senior manager.

4.7 Volunteer dismissal

Volunteers are expected to act in a suitable manner at all times. If a volunteer behaves in a manner that is dangerous, harmful, contrary to Evolve Housing’s ethical or other policies, Evolve Housing may dismiss the volunteer immediately.  Such misconduct includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Behaviour which is unacceptable, abuse, rudeness or other behaviour which in the opinion of Evolve Housing is likely to impact on the reputation, or business standing of Evolve Housing.
  • Neglecting their duties.
  • Dishonesty.
  • Drunkenness or any other drug-related behaviour.
  • Failure or refusal to carry out the reasonable and lawful directions of Evolve Housing, its managers or supervisors.
  • Any act or threat of violence towards fellow employees, or clients.
  • Any act of sexual harassment or discrimination.
  • Failure to comply with directions of Evolve Housing staff in relation to safe working practices and work, health and safety procedures.

4.8 Volunteer resignation

Volunteers may need to resign from their voluntary position.  Evolve Housing asks that the volunteer gives as much notice as possible before leaving the organisation. All volunteers are asked to provide their supervisor with an update on the progress of their work and to return any materials or files, electronic or otherwise, to Evolve Housing before they leave.

This policy is subject to change from time to time at the discretion of Evolve Housing.  Where an individual is observed to not be working within the scope of this policy, the breach will be addressed by a team leader.

5. Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the:

Chief Executive Officer to ensure this policy and associated procedures are applied and committed to by the Executive Leadership Team.

People & Culture Department to provide Team Leaders with timely policy-related support and guidance.

Leadership Team/Team Leaders to ensure familiarity with this policy and related procedures, to commit to following them accordingly and where relevant, promote the policy to their team.

Employees to ensure they comply with this policy, be responsible for their own behaviour and if required, attend relevant training as provided by the company from time to time.

6. Related resources

7. Where to get more information

For further information go to the Work Cover website or contact 13 10 50.

For any questions contact Evolve Housing on 1300 692 245 or 02 8862 1500 or info@evolvehousing.com.auFor further information see our Appeals Policy and Appeals Factsheet.

Document No:  HS025.2.0  |  Approved:  20/09/2013  |  Review Due:  20/09/2014