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Volunteers or Employees?

(66 Posts)
trisher Sat 14-Oct-17 11:00:49

I like to do things and have done quite a few different volunteer roles. I recently applied to volunteer with a local organisation but realised at my induction that if I did the task I was being shown I would effectively be taking on the same role as paid employees. In other words I was taking someone's job. I'm not going to do it and I will write explaining why but I do wonder if anyone else has experienced this. Is it now the case that volunteers are doing jobs that people should be paid to do?

Oldwoman70 Sat 14-Oct-17 11:06:23

This is a difficult one. Whilst I agree that getting volunteers to do work which was previously done by a paid employee is not what a reputable organisation would normally do, is this a cash strapped charity?

If so it is possible they just can't afford to hire someone to do the job which is why they are looking for volunteers to help the remaining paid employees. If that is the case I would take it on.

Imperfect27 Sat 14-Oct-17 11:07:13

Interesting - I have been job-hunting recently and receiving job alerts. Some companies have been advertising for employees and volunteers at the same time -slightly different job specs, but does leave you to wonder.

grannysue05 Sat 14-Oct-17 11:15:22

Our local famous charity shop (which shall remain nameless) where I volunteer, used to have three paid employees.
Now there is only one (paid) manageress and various unpaid volunteers like myself.
I have often wondered why they let the paid staff go. At the time it was because the charity could no longer afford them.
I must say that we take a large sum every week which presumably goes directly to our charity.

Jane10 Sat 14-Oct-17 11:22:03

I work at a charity on a voluntary basis. I enjoy it. However, if I didn't do what I do they couldn't afford to replace me. That's one of the reasons I do it but wonder how long I can keep up this commitment. I'd hate to let people down but one day I'll have to.

annsixty Sat 14-Oct-17 11:27:34

I tried it but felt very uncomfortable doing the same as employed people and then being asked to go and make the tea/coffee for everyone.
I felt too old to be used so I left.
It is a fine line between being useful and used.
Entirely opposite experience is where WRVS has been replaced with an outside company ,all employees.

BlueBelle Sat 14-Oct-17 11:59:04

I think volunteering for a charity is very different to volunteering in a company which personally I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing but I m very happy volunteering in a To,e that has never been a paid position and it does me as much good as it does the charity

BlueBelle Sat 14-Oct-17 11:59:41

A job not a To,e ?

glammanana Sat 14-Oct-17 12:11:14

Before I retired from my full time managers job within a Charity I would never ask a volunteer to do anything I would not do myself,things changed when we got a new area manager who wanted a daily job sheet preparing with tasks for vols to undertake along with specified break times,I had always worked under the theory that if my vols needed to take a rest and have a cuppa then they did just that but it all changed when new area manager took over,the managers of these charities must be made aware that they would not operate with out volunteers they are the backbone of the business and should be cherished.

trisher Sat 14-Oct-17 12:59:12

It isn't a charity as such- shall we call it a local cultural organisation? I think what really concerned me is that I expected a volunteer role to be something offered in addition to the ordinary service, not a part of that service

MissAdventure Sat 14-Oct-17 13:07:02

I know of a woman who volunteered at a local lunch club for the elderly. She was pressurised to 'work the till' which wasn't what she had in mind, and didn't really want responsibility for. Particularly since any shortfall was to be paid back by the person responsible. The till was almost like a computer, and she finally told the charity she didn't want the responsibility. They then told her they had nothing else to offer her and 'let her go'.

GrandmaMoira Sat 14-Oct-17 13:13:48

I worked in admin in the NHS. The last few years we were desperately short staffed and rather than pay assistants or temps, the management would get volunteers and work experience people to do the job that should have been a paid job. These people would do it for free as it gave them experience and a better chance of a paid job. I had to spend a lot of time training this endless cycle of people whilst doing my own work.
The whole system is awful and wrong - I'm so glad I'm retired.

Leticia Sat 14-Oct-17 13:46:22

I don't volunteer for anything unless it has always been a volunteer job. I would be happy to volunteer in the library but feel strongly that they ought to have paid librarians.

Teetime Sat 14-Oct-17 14:22:36

As a trustee of an Estate Management Charity I do lots of jobs that need to be done but if we employed people to do it we would be bankrupt and the recipients would get nothing.

M0nica Sat 14-Oct-17 21:02:22

Trisher just because you are doing the same job as an employee of the organisation does not mean you are taking a paid employee's job. The funding of the organisation probably means that they can only afford to employ so many staff to undertake the work they do and after they have employed those staff, any further work, if it is done at all, needs to be done by volunteers.

I worked for a charity as a volunteer alongside employees doing the same job. I was working as a Case worker, visiting clients at home. The Charity had a grant from the LA that paid for 4 full time case workers, who had to give preference to client referrals from the LA, but many more clients asked for help than these employed caseworkers could possibly visit. As a result the charity recruited and trained a team of volunteer case workers who took up the slack.

If I and my fellow volunteers had not taken on the workload we did, these other clients would simply have been left without assistance. The volunteers only took on as many clients as they felt we could manage and this varied from person to person.

trisher Sat 14-Oct-17 21:18:39

This wasn't a charity and the job would probably be minimum wage maybe around £80 a day to employ someone. So maybe the executives and managers on much higher wages should take a pay cut and employ enough people.

Harris27 Sun 15-Oct-17 09:08:58

£80 a day wow wish I git paid that as nursery nurse!

Disgruntled Sun 15-Oct-17 09:22:20

I used to work for the local hospice, as a therapist. Originally I approached them, wanting a paid job, but there was already someone there doing it voluntarily. So I joined them. After a few months I left, having realised that this wasn't leading to anything. But I did love working on the wards, so a few years later I went back, again in a voluntary capacity. After a while I was put "on bank", i.e. called on as and when needed, and paid. This could be one day a week but was usually three. Very similar to zero hours contracts. Earlier this year I was told there was no more money left in the budget, thank you and goodbye. Doctors were prescribing Reiki and it was valued by the patients and nursing staff.
I always thought there were two types of volunteers - the ones who want to give something back to the community and would look after the flowers, for instance, and those who have a skill which I think should be paid for.
I was approached by another hospice but after a couple of interviews learned that the matron insisted on all therapists volunteering for an unspecified length of time before being paid. Those volunteers were also expected to fork out for membership of two organisations (a couple of hundred pounds) and buy their own uniform.
I decided against it.

radicalnan Sun 15-Oct-17 09:24:02

I recently left a role as entertainment manager at a sheltered housing complex, when I found out that residents were charged £20 per week each for my voluntary services.

The housing association, were taking ample money to employ someone and should do so. No point worrying about the economy and facilitating unemployment.

Some charity shops treat their staff badly, and when I left a voluntary placement at one, I wrote to the head office and told them, I would not want to be on my death bed knowing that people had been exploited to give me a few, rather pointless luxuries. The salaries those at the top pay themselves are obscene and our CEO went to jail for fraud.

GrumpyOldBat Sun 15-Oct-17 09:27:30

Organisations need to be careful when using volunteers. One of the core principles if volunteering is that volunteers should not replace paid staff. Also, if an organisation treats it's volunteers like staff (insisting on certain hours, fixed breaks, all the stuff that looks like an employment contract) they can find themselves in a tribunal and having to back-pay wages and NI contributions because they treated the volunteer as an employee, making that volunteer entitled to minimum wage, NI contributions and paid holiday.

Rosina Sun 15-Oct-17 09:33:01

When I retired I went to talk to the local Citizens' Advice Bureau to offer a few hours a week. I was offered a job similar to the one that I had just retired from. I would have been working for at least fifteen hours a week, and in addition for some evenings taking minutes at meetings that 'could last for three hours', and then typing the notes. I don't do shorthand and am not a professional typist. Can you imagine just how much that voluntary job would have taken from my week? Probably more than my previous paid employment!

Coconut Sun 15-Oct-17 09:34:17

I too would refuse in this situation, it’s exploitation of the kind nature of volunteers.

Alice16 Sun 15-Oct-17 09:51:19

I was a Chartered Librarian and worked for many years in public libraries. When the local authority got rid of all their qualified librarians, due to savage budget cuts, they were replaced by customer care assistants and many volunteers!

Disgruntled Sun 15-Oct-17 09:56:31

That's very interesting, Grumpyoldbat. The volunteers and those on bank at the hospice all do the same job, with the same rules and so on, but only the staff have any holiday pay, sick pay or rights. Definitely a three tier system.

seadragon Sun 15-Oct-17 09:58:37

Spot on GrumpyoldBat. Beat me to it. However there seems little heart to pursue tribunals where volunteers are used as employees.