Employee volunteering policy

As an organisation, we recognise the valuable input charities and organisations get from their volunteers as well as the personal rewards it brings those who volunteer.

Volunteering provides significant benefits to the charities and initiatives with additional support whilst also helping individuals make a difference. Some of the wider benefits of volunteering include:

  • helping you be part of the community
  • allowing you to learn new skills and experiences
  • helping you gain confidence and giving you the opportunity to try something new
  • making a real and valuable impact on people, communities and society in general
  • providing opportunities for you to meet different types of people
  • improving morale, physical health and work-life balance
  • being fun

Volunteering days for SBC staff

The Special Leave policy for staff has been updated to allow employees to take up to two days of paid leave for volunteering a year.

Who can get involved?

Employees who have a permanent or temporary post can apply for up to two days per calendar year to volunteer for a cause close to their heart.

What organisations or projects can I support?

You can support any charity or SBC service that operates within the Scottish Borders area. This could be for example - care homes, day centres, schools, animal rescue centres, Samaritans or any other locally focussed activity.

Any activities which cannot be shown to be of benefit to the local community, such as organisations who look to make profit or volunteering to support a friend or family member, will not qualify under this scheme.

You should not participate in any activities that could be in conflict with your SBC role or one which may impact on your health and wellbeing.

How do I apply for special leave?

If you wish to take part in volunteering, you should discuss with your line manager to seek approval.

If the request is approved, you must then record the date as leave within Business World. This can be done by using the ‘Absence’ task available under ‘Your Employment’ and selecting ‘volunteer’ as the absence code.

If you do not have access to Business World you should request time off in the usual way.

Approval of time off will be subject to the needs of the service. SBC will support as many requests as possible however there may be times that this cannot be accommodated for example:

  • if it has a negative impact on the business and service needs
  • work within the service cannot be re-arranged to accommodate the employees varied hours
  • the cost of cover would be too great

Only two applications per year should be submitted for up to the maximum of two days per year for a full time employee (pro-rata for part time).

Once authorised, employees will be granted paid time off to attend volunteering activity up to two days per calendar year (pro rata- for part time staff). 

Processing applications

Managers can take into account attendance records in the previous year – an acceptable level of attendance is required before your volunteering time off will be agreed. Managers can also consider contract duration for temporary contracts – usually 12 months or longer would be required to obtain the full entitlement, although managers can be flexible depending on the circumstances.

Where a request is declined, your manager will advise you of the reason. Receiving a refusal does not prevent you from requesting time off to volunteer in the future.

Expenses and equipment

Other than paid time off to attend the volunteering activity, no additional expenses will be paid. Staff should discuss this with the organisation that you are volunteering with as they may offer to pay reasonable expenses relating to travel or equipment.

Health and safety

It is your responsibility to ensure you are meeting all health and safety standards, no matter the type of volunteering activity you choose to do. You should ensure that the organisation that you are volunteering with has sufficient insurance cover for the role that you undertake.

Volunteering opportunities

There are many ways that you can get involved in volunteering within the Scottish Borders with just some examples below:

Volunteer Centre Borders also has a range of opportunities available that may be of interest. Support they are able to provide includes:

  • meeting up with volunteers to discuss and explore potential volunteering opportunities for you to sign up to
  • posting volunteering opportunities on behalf of charities to attract volunteers

More information is available to download in their guidance notes.

More information

If you have any questions about the volunteering policy, contact the HR Case Management Team at: askhr@scotborders.gov.uk or on 01835 825052.