Recruiting Volunteers – Can you do the same checks?

Millions of organisations across the world depend on volunteer labour. Good causes would grind to a halt if it wasn’t for their volunteers. The main issue which most charities have is recruiting volunteers. Anyone who has been involved in a charity or club which uses volunteers knows that getting people can be tough. Especially people who are prepared to commit regularly. So how do you go about getting people to sign up as volunteers? And equally importantly, what sorts of checks do they need?

Recruiting Volunteers – Finding the Right People

The first battle any organisation faces is finding people who are interested in volunteering. For charities with a limited advertising budget, this can be difficult. Social media is useful in these cases. Send out Facebook posts, email supporters, tweet or post on Instagram. It’s often a good idea to point out that the position can be really flexible. A volunteer might be prepared to commit to once a fortnight, or term-time only. Some charities also do test sessions for volunteers to let them try out the role before committing to anything permanent. Another good tip is to make links with local schools and colleges who might be looking for work experience opportunities for students.

Right to work checks for volunteers?

When you’re recruiting someone for a new job, you have to ensure they are in the UK legally, and have the right to work. But does this apply to volunteers too? Well the picture is in fact fairly complicated. People who are in the UK legally are allowed to volunteer for one off, adhoc events. Organisers of fun runs or other big events are allowed to ask for passports to verify someone’s nationality. There are different rules when it comes to voluntary work. Voluntary work would be defined as something more regular, such as helping out in an office once a week or doing every Saturday in your local charity shop. Not everyone has the right to do this sort of work. Check the legislation online for the latest details.

Criminal Records Checks for volunteers

Again, this is one of these situations where it will depend on the type of role taking place. It’s not illegal for charities to ask whether someone has a criminal record. It would be reasonable to ask about convictions if someone was going to be in charge of counting large sums of donated money, for example.

A formal DBS check, which is the modern replacement for a CRB check, can only be done for certain jobs. If you are taking on a voluntary position working with children at a sports club, then you will need an enhanced DBS check. For admin work in an office, it’s unlikely. Organisations which take on volunteers are usually very clued up about what they need to do. There is no difference in the process when applying for a DBS check on a volunteer. The only difference is that in most cases, charities don’t have to be for check carried out on a volunteer.