Volunteering will usually take place in your free time, but there is an option to take unpaid leave.

I want to volunteer in my own time  

There are a variety of opportunities to volunteer during weekends and evenings. For example, the NHS volunteer responders scheme, or at local food banks and charities. Please check with any organisation you volunteer with that they have the appropriate insurance and indemnities for the activities they are asking you to do. If not, we advise you check that you are covered by your personal insurance.

If you plan to volunteer in your spare time, it would be helpful if you inform your line manager and email HR. We would like to know how you will be volunteering, the time commitment, and a role description if you have one. This is so we have a sense of the scale in which our staff are contributing to the national response. It is a difficult time for everyone, so we want to ensure you feel supported at work if you are also undertaking volunteering.

I want to volunteer by working flexibly 

If you want to volunteer during normal working hours but are able to make the time up by working flexibly, this must be agreed with your line manager. Where business needs allow, we encourage line managers to be supportive. 

I want to take part in the Emergency Volunteering Scheme 

The Coronavirus Act 2020 introduced a new statutory emergency volunteering leave. The Act sets out provisions to allow workers to take unpaid leave in order to volunteer in relevant health and social care authorities. NHS volunteer responders can apply on their website.

This information is correct at the time of publishing with further details on the national guidance to follow when they are released. 

As an employee or casual staff you have the right to take leave under this scheme provided you have an emergency volunteering certificate from a relevant health or social care authority. 

You must give the University at least three working days written notice, and submit a digital copy of your emergency volunteering certificate to HR by email. Please discuss with your line manager about how your work will be covered.   

Will I be paid?

Emergency voluntary leave is unpaid. However, the Act requires that the Government makes accompanying provision to compensate you for loss of earnings, and for travel and subsistence.

It is likely that this compensation will be payable directly by Government, however, details of the regulations are yet to come. Further information will be available here when it is announced. 

How long can I take?

Emergency voluntary leave can be taken in periods of two, three or four consecutive weeks, and must begin and end in the same 16-week volunteering period.  

Only one period of can be taken in any one 16-week volunteering period, although the Government is able to announce consecutive volunteering periods. The first period started on 25 March 2020. 

Will it affect my contract with the University?

While volunteering you will retain the same terms and conditions in your contract of employment, except in relation to remuneration – your wages or salary. You also have the right to return to your job on these same terms and conditions after volunteering. 

If you wish to return to work early, this is done by mutual agreement. You will need to advise your line manager and email HR.

What happens if I am sick?

If you are sick during the period you need to inform us that your volunteering has ended due to sickness. You will return to the University on sick pay.

Will it affect my pension scheme?

Your pension will not be affected by taking emergency voluntary leave. Pension schemes will include a provision to ensure the continued accrual of and calculation of benefits in the same way as if you were working normally. 

This means that employer pension contributions need to be based on the employee’s normal pay, but employee pension contributions will be based on the amount of the employee’s actual pay during emergency voluntary leave.

This model is the same as the one adopted for maternity leave – see s.75 Equality Act 2010.

I'm in the UK on a visa, can I apply?
If you are on a visa, you will need to check if its provisions allow you to volunteer. Email the immigration team in HR if you have any questions. 


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