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Volunteering policy

Our Volunteering Policy outlines our commitment to supporting our volunteers and adopting best practice in volunteer management.

Policy statement

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) recognises and values the contribution of volunteers helping us to achieve our mission to improve women’s health and healthcare worldwide, through our global education, clinical quality and influencing abilities. It is recognised that a thriving and engaged volunteer base is essential and supports the RCOG as a vibrant, modern professional membership body, especially as our volunteers will typically, though not exclusively, represent our members and the women they serve. The RCOG is committed to supporting volunteers and adopting best practice in volunteer management.

This policy is applicable to all volunteers and employees. This policy supersedes all other Volunteering policies and agreements across the College. RCOG employees should note their responsibilities during the process of recruitment as detailed below.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to outline how the RCOG is committed to supporting volunteers and adopting best practice in volunteer management, as well as volunteer expectations. It supports managers in adopting a policy of fair and equal treatment that safeguards the interests of volunteers and the RCOG. Volunteers are recognised as adding value, support and diversity to the work of the RCOG.

The RCOG’s areas of activity depend on many different types of volunteers, including members (Fellows, Members, Trainees, Associates and Affiliates) who give their time freely. Specific contributions include Officers, Examiners, Council members, event speakers, media spokespeople, support to global health programmes and committee membership.

Other voluntary activity includes support to College activity by non-members who provide specialist advice, lived experience and other support to our work.

The RCOG values these contributions and this policy sets out guidance on supporting all types of volunteers in their engagement with the College.

Definition of a Volunteer

Volunteers are not employees of the RCOG. A volunteer is a person who undertakes tasks at the direction of and on behalf of the RCOG, without compensation or expectation of compensation beyond reimbursement of expenses incurred in the course of volunteer duties.

Volunteers include people who have an active interest in the work of the RCOG, people with lived experience as O&G service users, Fellows, Members, trustees and associated professionals who wish to support and promote our activities and services. Volunteers support particular projects or activities and also support with ad hoc routine work

Volunteers add value to the College and are not seen as a cost cutting replacement for existing staff. They are a valued part of the team, supporting the diversity of ideas, bringing new skills and experience. Volunteers support  adhoc work as well as direct support to particular projects or activities.

The definition of volunteer does not include anyone who is undertaking a role as a paid intern, in an honorary contract or where a secondment agreement is in place, for example with a partner NHS Trust or Health Board.

The volunteer does not have to accept the offer of a placement and may withdraw before or after the placement has started. Whilst the College is under no obligation to offer the volunteering placement, we welcome those who wish to offer their services and place great value on the contribution they make.

Principles 

The RCOG believes in the following principles when working with volunteers:

  • Choice: Volunteering must be a choice freely made by each individual
  • Mutual benefit: Volunteers offer their contribution and skills unwaged but should benefit in other ways in return for their contribution. Giving time voluntarily must be recognised as establishing a reciprocal relationship in which the volunteer also benefits and feels that his or her contribution is personally fulfilling

The RCOG’s Commitment

The RCOG will:

  • Value volunteering as integral to our work at all levels and recognise the ‘gift in time and expertise’ from volunteers as critical to our success.
  • Distinguish volunteering from employment and put flexibility and informality to best effect to complement the work of paid staff.
  • Appreciate that volunteering can change and enrich the lives of the women and public who benefit from our work as well as the volunteers themselves. Volunteer involvement within the College will take account of the individual experiences, attributes and competencies that volunteers bring ensuring they are recognised and they have opportunities to develop them.
  • Respect volunteers in both listening and learning from what they have to say.
  • Value and respect the individual through providing equal access to opportunities for active involvement within the scope of the College.
  • Value volunteering as an inclusive act of participation, particularly from member volunteers, that is itself important in promoting the work of the College.
  • Recruit volunteers on a task-led basis to match service users’ needs with volunteers’ skills, knowledge, experience and motivation.
  • Put in place flexible recruitment arrangements to recognise the different levels of time commitment given by volunteers.

Responsibilities

The RCOG acknowledges the need for a clear and consistent organisational framework for voluntary involvement that creates a positive climate for development.

Directors are responsible for the effective engagement, induction and deployment of volunteers within the department or project and their day to day activities. Volunteers will be informed who to approach for support and have regular access to that person.

Although volunteers offer time freely and willingly, and without binding or contractual obligation, there is a presumption of mutual support and reliability, as well as attainment of the ‘high standards’ which is one of our Core Values.

The College does not specify an upper age limit and recognises the valuable contribution made in terms of knowledge and experience. The College Safeguarding Policy and associated risk assessment will be applied for any volunteering by children (under 16) or young people (aged 16 to 18).

Volunteer Appointments 

Whether in response to direct recruitment drives, or as an unprompted gesture, all volunteering enquiries will receive a prompt and welcoming response which reflects the value that the College attaches to volunteers.

Volunteers will be selected based on their skills, experience, interests, and availability as per the requirements of the particular placement/role. We welcome volunteers from a diverse background to better represent the diversity of the profession and those they serve.

All volunteers must go through a local selection process appropriate in scale for the role they are applying for. Where a formal application and interview process is not deemed necessary this must be agreed with the People Team as appropriate. This process will be managed locally by line managers (however, in the event that any queries or advice requirements arise, managers should get in touch with a member of the People Team as appropriate.

The RCOG has no obligation to accept volunteers and reserves the right to refuse any applicant. In addition, the RCOG has the right to suspend or end the voluntary arrangement if a medically qualified volunteer is removed from or has conditions applied on a Medical Register in any country or for allegations (suspension) or upheld investigations (removal) relating to conduct which is not in line with the RCOG Code of Conduct.

Applications should consist of a current CV and covering letter expressing interest in undertaking a volunteer placement, expectations and the time commitments they are willing to make.

Volunteers will be asked to sign an Agreement which is relevant to the nature and type of their voluntary engagement with the College.

Should the volunteer wish to end the appointment ahead of the end of the term of office, volunteers are asked to reasonable written notice to allow the RCOG sufficient time to make arrangements to fill the role or reallocate any tasks. It is recognised there will need to be some flexibility due to unforeseen circumstances. 

To note that the appointment of RCOG Trustees is carried out in line with Charity Commission guidance and the Nominations and Remuneration Committee leads the appointment process.

Training and Development

New volunteers, whatever their role, will receive appropriate induction and training where necessary. This may include the requirements of the placement, core skills and knowledge required for the role, health and safety, and other topics, as necessary.

Opportunities for further support and development will be provided on an ongoing basis for any volunteers who wish to participate.

Volunteer Support

Information for volunteers will be made available through the intranet (where applicable) and line managers.

Volunteers can discuss and review their input, raise matters of concern and make suggestions for positive improvements with their line manager.

In the event of volunteers ending their involvement with the RCOG, the line manager will offer appropriate recognition and thanks, demonstrating how their input has been valued.

Insurance

The ROCG provides Employers Liability, Public Liability, Travel and Professional Indemnity cover for all volunteers whilst working on Colleges activities. The RCOG does not provide motor insurance cover. The insurance will not cover unauthorised actions or actions outside the volunteering agreement. Our standard cover is for volunteers who are

  • 16-80 years of age
  • Working on clerical or non-manual work

The cover does not include travel undertaken to/from areas the FCO advices against all travel to, or where war or major disturbances are reported in progress. The Volunteer’s line manager of key contact will need to make special insurance arrangements if any activity falls outside of the standard cover or when any significant new activity or risk is identified.

Misconduct and Complaints

All volunteers are asked to abide by RCOG values and the RCOG Code of Conduct. This relates to all forms of behaviour and communication including written, verbal, non-verbal, electronic and social media activity. This is relevant when an individual is working on behalf of the College, engaged in College business, representing the College, or when there are potential implications for the College’s reputation. Additionally, the College expects members to uphold these standards of conduct in all professional contexts.

The RCOG strives to provide a professional, respectful and timely service in all our interactions with volunteers and is committed to adhering to policies and procedures. However, the College recognises that on occasion services may fall short of expectations; and the conduct of a College member, trainee, staff or representative might fall below expectations.

Any problem arising from either side should be resolved through informal discussion, either with the line manager/Key Contact or Senior Manager/Executive Director within the reporting line. If the issues prove to be irreconcilable, or if the voluntary placement does not prove to meet the required expectations, either party has the option to terminate the arrangement without notice. Normally, however, 1 weeks’ notice can be given by either party to terminate the arrangement in these circumstances.

It should be noted that the College has a Complaints Policy which can be found at https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/about-us/policies/complaints-policy/

Volunteer Expenses

Reimbursement of travel expenses will be made to volunteers at regular intervals: receipts of travel expenditure will be required in line with our travel and expenses policy.

 

Approved May 2021