Volunteering England has warned organisations against job substitution, stating that it risks damaging the reputation of volunteering.
The organisation has today published A guide to avoiding job substitution in partnership with Locality, Navca and NCVO to explain how charities should manage situations so that volunteers do not, or are not perceived to, take on roles that were previously done by paid members of staff.
Job substitution is when volunteers replace paid members of staff. Volunteering England says that in extreme cases this occurs when jobs are cut and volunteers are recruited to fill gaps. At the other end of the spectrum it can occur when a charity withdraws a service and community volunteers offer to run it.
Chief executive of Volunteering England, Justin Davis Smith said: “There is a danger that volunteers are seen as a way of reducing costs, and that undermines staff jobs and is extremely damaging to the perception of volunteering.”
The guide reminds organisations of the Volunteering England and Trade Union Congress (TUC) charter for strengthening relations between paid staff and volunteers and says: “One of the key principles of this charter is that the involvement of volunteers should complement and supplement the work of paid staff. They should not displace paid staff or undercut their pay and conditions of service.”
In the new guidance Volunteering England recommends that charities consult with trade unions, staff and the community about volunteer involvement, create a volunteering policy, and agree the roles and responsibilities of volunteers.
The guidance also suggests taking steps to encourage working relationships between staff and volunteers, for example by inviting volunteers to meetings and including them in training sessions.