Time off to volunteer during coronavirus

Wednesday April 8, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has sadly separated many people from their jobs, friends and loved ones. But it has also invoked a forceful humanitarian effort, and brought others together in ways we never could have imagined.

News of the devastation caused by COVID-19 is in no short supply. So we wanted to take this opportunity to home in on something positive that has emerged from the crisis. The overwhelming number of people who signed up to the government’s volunteer responder scheme set up to support the NHS, GoodSam.

24 hours after the scheme was introduced, it was announced that almost half a million people had already registered. The current count is at 750,000, and the scheme has been temporarily paused in order for the vast number of initial registrations to be processed.

Opportunities for volunteering offered by the scheme include vital medicine deliveries, patient transportation and befriender phone calls to support those who are in isolation.

Has a member of your workforce signed up to help in the fight against coronavirus? Or perhaps you employ people who have expressed an interest in volunteering? This would be good news as there are many wonderful benefits associated with the pursuit.

Why is volunteering good for employees?

Volunteering not only provides support to those in desperate need, but can also be a fulfilling accomplishment for those who selflessly devote their time and goodwill.

Giving back to the community, or perhaps even further afield in this example, can be beneficial for a person’s mental and physical health. In addition to boosting morale and providing an important sense of self-worth, volunteering affords opportunities to improve many transferable skills such as communication, problem solving and teamwork.

Those who partake in volunteering are also likely to show compassion and altruism in other aspects of their life, such as in their place of work.

The benefits to your business

Employing people who show a passion for charitable work can do wonders for your company culture and overall business. Supporting, and actively encouraging such activity can attract positive and open-minded people during a recruitment drive and assist your employee retention programme.

In a time where we are reminded of the threat of climate change, and amidst the worst health crisis of a generation, employees are looking to their employers for leadership in new ways. Your company’s contributions to social responsibility can retain good people in your business, open new doors for partnerships and strengthen your surrounding community. All of which is good for business.

How can I help employees who want to volunteer?

With such a public call out for volunteers, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the rules surrounding employees who wish to volunteer.

Employees are entitled to emergency volunteer leave for a maximum of four weeks. For this you can authorise unpaid absence from work. Ask us if you have questions.

Employees who are on furlough leave through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can take part in volunteering during this time and still be eligible for the scheme. It must not provide any services for, or drive revenue to, your business. And you should keep in touch with them to know when they are volunteering.

Due to the extremity of the coronavirus crisis, employees who are military reservists could be called upon to assist in relief efforts. You will need to comply with such orders. If you have questions about managing reservists or employees who are volunteering to help fight coronavirus, contact your local HR Dept for advice. We are here to help.

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