6.0 Staff and Volunteers’ Matters


6.1 Staff Selection

The appointment of staff may be delegated to an agency or carried out by the trustees or delegated staff. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method. It is important that however the process is carried out the trustees have a clearly defined job description and person profile BEFORE advertising the post. For senior roles it may be a good idea to have the draft contract of employment available for inspection by applicants.

The advertisement for the role should be clear and state if there are any restrictions or special requirements for the post.  Take care to avoid any form of discrimination unless the post falls within an exempted category.

6.1.1 Application Form

To ensure standardisation of applications the use of an application form is advised. If you simply ask for a CV, time will have to be spent transferring the information to a standard format for comparison purposes.

Not all people living in the UK have the right to work here.  It is important to ensure that applicants are legally allowed to carry out any duties expected.

6.1.2 Interviews

There should be two people interviewing; if it is for a senior role it may be worth having a third person as note taker. Interviews should be carefully arranged so there are no disturbances and adequate time between interviews should be allowed to make notes on each candidate. A standard score sheet may also be useful. Take time to prepare questions in advance. Try to ensure you ask open questions and do not ask any that may later be considered discriminatory. Think about using competency based questions that ask for detailed explanation of examples around a specific skill or behaviour.  After each candidate has been seen make notes and complete the score sheet. Notes should be factual rather than impressions. Remember that you may need to rely on these later should an unsuccessful applicant decide to challenge the appointment through an Employment Tribunal. Take care during the interview process not to give any indication that a particular person has been successful or otherwise as a verbal contract could be formed.


6.2 Appointment

Any offer of employment should be in writing. The offer letter should either include any other relevant documents or clearly set out the terms and conditions of employment. Other relevant documents include the contract of employment; copy of the staff handbook, if there is one; next of kin contact details; bank details (for paying of salary) and acceptance /reply slip. Some charities may choose to include documents relevant only to them e.g. a history of their charity.  It is sometimes advisable to contact the first choice by telephone to ensure they will accept the offer. This should be carried out before writing to the unsuccessful candidates in case you need to offer the post to a second choice. Such a call should simply confirm that a letter is on the way. Any offer should state any conditions such as the need to check references, if these have not been obtained before interview and a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

6.2.1.  Contract of Employment

A contract of employment should set out clearly the terms and conditions of employment and must be given to an employee within 8 weeks of starting work. See Appendix D for a simple example. A more detailed contract may be required depending on the role.  Include in the contract references to holidays, pay reviews and pensions.  See fuller details below.

6.2.2  Job Description

A job description should be a comprehensive statement of responsibilities and a full outline of the type of work the person appointed would be expected to perform.  This job description may state that it is a non-contractual document and will be changed from time to time to meet the changing needs of the employer. A useful phrase to include is 'other duties as may from time to time be required’.

6.2.3  Working Hours

The job advertisement and Contract of Employment will state the normal hours of work.  If the employee is expected to cover On Call you should refer to the Working Time Regulations. A mid-2012, tribunal has ruled that time On Call only counts as working time if the person is called to deal with a situation. If you have any doubt about what counts towards working time, seek advice.

6.2.4  Staff Records

The charity should compile a folder containing a copy of the job advertisement;  the original application form; a copy of the job offer letter; the job acceptance form; next of kin contact details; bank details; and signed copy of the contract of employment.

It must be remembered that all information collected in the course of recruitment could be covered by the Data Protection Act. Care should be taken therefore to ensure that only people who need to see the information do so. This applies to all documents on the employee’s file.

Some employers issue a Code of Good Practice, this may also be known as a Staff Handbook. This document can be specifically geared to the circumstances and environment of the particular employer’s activity and sets out standards for employee conduct, attitude and performance.   Model Contracts of Employment and Codes of Good Practice are available from several sources, e.g.Xpert HR, Croner Solutions and Employment Buddy. (See Appendix B.)


6.3 New Employees

6.3.1  Day One

It is important that when the new employee arrives for work s/he is met by the clerk or administrator who will take time to introduce them to their new environment. Clear reporting systems and lines of communication should be in place. For smaller charities it may be that the employee reports to a particular trustee. It may be better if this is not the chairman of trustees in case of disciplinary appeals later on.

6.3.2. Induction

Induction should be spaced over a number of days if necessary and should cover matters that are relevant to the particular charity.   Larger charities may include such things as reporting procedures; history of the charity; reporting on and off duty. For the smaller charity it may be simply a matter of introducing the new person to the residents.

6.3.3. 30 day review

It is good practice to have a review after the first month. This will allow opportunity for both parties to monitor how the new person is settling in and how they have performed their duties and for the new person to raise any particular points about the role.


6.4 Annual Review

A useful aid to job satisfaction is an Annual Performance Review, sometimes called the Annual Appraisal. The review should be a one-to-one interview where both parties are encouraged to exchange views. The review should be conducted by the employee's line manager or delegated to someone with appropriate skills or training.  This is an opportunity for employers to let employees know how they are performing against expectations and for employees to make constructive comments in a non-disciplinary, non-patronising atmosphere. The end result is that both parties are aware of adequacies and inadequacies. Where the latter exists, steps should be agreed to overcome them and time scales set. A written statement of the interview should be put on file showing the outcomes and expectations. If there are agreed development expectations make sure that these are diarised for follow-up. Some organisations link pay reviews to the appraisal outcome.

The Annual Performance Review should not be the only opportunity for dialogue between the employer and the employee. Regular meetings or ‘one-to-ones’ should take place throughout the year to ensure on-going monitoring of performance and regular opportunities to discuss issues. At the Annual Review the employee should not be faced with a list of matters of which s/he have not been made aware. A Pre Annual Review Form can be issued so that both parties are aware of topics to be discussed.

The Induction, 30 Day Review and Annual Review should all be recorded, signed by both parties and filed on the individual’s personnel file.


6.5 Training

Depending on the experience of the individual they may encounter a number of new and challenging situations. It is the trustees’ responsibility to ensure that the individual has access to the necessary resources to fulfil the role and expectations of the charity. Some organisations have a training agreement. This is a document signed by the individual when training is booked to say that if they do not attend they will be responsible for the cost if the training cannot be re-booked without charge.


6.6 Health and Safety Issues

A complex area of employment regulation is that relating to health and safety. The degree to which an organisation is affected depends on the number of employees.  Whether required by law or not, trustees have a moral obligation to take all reasonable steps to provide safe working conditions.  This includes the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  It should never be assumed that an employee who has previously worked in a similar environment has an adequate knowledge of safety procedures.

Local Environmental Health Offices may provide both help and training. It is essential to institute proper procedures for action in the event of fire and other emergencies and to ensure at regular intervals that staff are familiar with the procedures and are capable of carrying them out. The Fire Service is usually pleased to give advice on fire safety.


6.7 Manual Handling

As a result of changing perceptions in the importance of health and safety at work, a far more rigorous approach is necessary in circumstances in which staff handle residents. The concept of ‘lifting’ has been replaced by ‘manual handling’ and it is an important part of trustees’ responsibilities as an employer that a careful risk assessment is made of all circumstances in which the staff may need to be involved in handling residents. As part of that risk assessment trustees should have a Manual Handling Policy.

The policy should assess the limit of what staff can attempt. In many cases within almshouse charities there will only be one member of staff available and they should not be expected to directly lift a resident at any time. In fact the employee should be told not to attempt to lift a resident.

The policy should cover the circumstances in which help is sought e.g. summoning the help of the ambulance service. Charities with care homes may have equipment available and staff who are fully trained in its use.  Small hoists are available on the market which can be used in a domiciliary setting. Advice can be sought from the local Occupational Therapy Department with regard to hoists which may have a particular relevance for individual residents, such as in the bathroom. There are some other aids such as the Mangar lifting cushion which can be used to assist a fallen resident to rise. Mangar’s address is at Appendix B.

Appropriate arrangements must be made for the purchase, maintenance and training, including update training as necessary of such equipment, bearing in mind that almshouses are for independent living. The National Back Pain Association publishes a useful guide on handling jointly with the Royal College of Nursing, details of which are referred to in Appendix B.


6.8 First Aid

Accidents do happen and good employers will ensure that where appropriate facilities exist, someone is properly trained to use them.  Days off work can be expensive in terms of the cost of employing temporary staff or more so if legal action takes place as a result of due care not being taken.  All accidents must be recorded in an accident book.


6.9 Smoking

Smoking in the work place is prohibited by law. But what about ‘passive smoking’ where the employee is expected to visit a resident who is a heavy smoker? This can be a difficult problem to resolve. Where staff and/or other residents are exposed to the effects of other smokers trustees should introduce policies to eliminate the harmful effects.   There should be a statement in Resident’s Handbook that all communal areas are non smoking and residents could be invited to refrain from smoking during any visits from members of the charity’s staff or trustees.


6.10 Abuse

Abuse can take many and varied forms and can be either deliberate or by neglect. Abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological/emotional, financial, racist, sexist, based on a person’s disability or gender orientation. There is now a much wider recognition of the dangers of elder abuse in our society as a result of the campaigning work of Action on Elder Abuse and others, See Appendix B for address and Help Line. It is important in this context to be aware that abuse is used in a much wider sense than the purely physical. Action on Elder Abuse has defined it as ‘a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person’.

6.10.1  Abuse suffered by Residents

Staff need to be vigilant for any signs of abuse to a resident that could be by other members of staff, residents, families or trustees.  There should be more than one channel for reporting abuse.  Trustees need to set out a procedure to be adopted where a member of staff has such concerns.

Any abuse policy should comply with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 that establishes a framework for qualifying disclosures by workers, sometimes referred to as ‘Whistleblowing’. It should actively encourage employees to report any wrongdoing, or suspected wrongdoing, by the employer, other employees, or residents. Employees should be assured that their concern will be taken seriously, treated in confidence, investigated and that no action will be taken against the person reporting genuine concerns. It is important that staff are supported throughout the whole procedure which may be lengthy.

Local Authorities, through their adult social care services are required to play a co-ordinating role in developing local policies and procedures to safeguard vulnerable adults in conjunction with other key statutory agencies such as the police and probation services, NHS organisations and other providers of health and social care.

6.10.2  Abuse suffered by Staff

It is equally important that trustees understand the need to protect their staff from abuse in the workplace. Trustees, irrespective of whether they employ staff, must provide and endorse a clear policy statement that all manner of abuse, in any of its forms, is completely unacceptable. Where abuse occurs between work colleagues, it may be treated as a disciplinary matter.  Confidentiality should be preserved as much as possible for the complainant, or complainants. However, if the matter leads to dismissal and subsequent tribunal the degree of confidentiality may be taken out of the hands of the organisation.


6.11 Stress

This is a complex subject demonstrated by the fact that no universally accepted definition for stress has yet been found. The critical factor in any situation is how the individual responds to perceived demands. For some people it is more than they can cope with to cross the road without help; others thrive on crossing countries on their own. Stress is about a pattern of responses to a pattern of challenges, each perceived differently by different individuals.

6.11.1  Stress suffered by Residents

Those involved in care should be encouraged to be sensitive to the realities of residents’ stress. Articulation of the feelings and naming of the difficulties can often help. Skilled listening can enable this to happen. At other times referral to other professional agencies should be considered via the GP.

6.11.2  Stress suffered by Staff

Sometimes the demands of care can produce stress in members of staff that needs attention. Staff who see residents on a daily basis can become involved and attached to them. If a resident has to go into hospital or dies, the scheme manager or carer can feel considerable stress. Stress can be minimised through the careful use of staff skills, workload and use of time. There are a variety of ways of detecting stress through behaviour and attention to sickness absence. Trustees should be aware that there needs to be an established network for staff to talk to someone else about their anxieties to reduce their own stress levels.

It should be noted that ‘stress’ itself is not an illness but that it can lead to illness.  Where this is the case the employee and/or their GP should clearly state exactly what is the stress-related illness.

Cruse Bereavement Care offers one-to-one counselling for anyone who wants to talk confidentially about bereavement. Many Cruse branches also provide support groups and social events to help overcome the feeling of isolation that often follows the death of someone close. Information about your local branch of Cruse can be provided by Cruse Head Office. (See Appendix B for further details).


6.12  Computers and Data Protection

Where applicable there should be a policy concerning the use of computers especially if they are used to store personal information. Depending on the amount and nature of information, it may be necessary to register with the Information Commissioner for the processing of data. Consideration should be given to ensuring information is protected by passwords especially when processing wages and salaries.

For more information on Data Protection see Chapter 2.11.1.


6.13 Holidays

All full time employees are entitled to a statutory minimum 28 days’ paid holiday, which includes the UK standard 8 public holidays, part-time staff have holidays pro-rata.  Charities may choose to allow more holiday or may give additional holiday after certain lengths of employment e.g. an extra day for each two full years of employment.  There may be a maximum entitlement.

As part of the induction process it should be clearly explained to the employee how holiday leave must be agreed and if there are any limits as to when they can be taken, for example, only two weeks between May and October inclusive.


6.14 Other Statutory Leave Entitlement

Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Leave    

Employees are entitled to various statutory leaves. Some entitlement is subject to minimum continuous employment. If asked about these leaves it is best to take specific advice.


6.15 Sickness

6.15.1  Absence

All sickness absence should be recorded. If it appears that there is a higher than expected amount of absence, consideration should be given to return to work interviews.

6.15.2  Pay

Subject to meeting certain criteria, employees are normally eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Each charity must decide if it wishes to pay Enhanced Sick Pay. If Enhanced Sick Pay is not a contractual agreement, care should be taken if it is paid on an ad hoc basis. Employees will talk and discrimination claims may follow paying one employee above the SSP rate but not another.

6.16  Expenses

Where an employee is expected to fund certain activities from their own resources there should be a clear process for reclaiming of expenses. Expenses can cover more than simply a mileage allowance. For example some scheme managers may be expected to provide an annual tea. The reclaim form should be accompanied by receipts. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) provide rates for refunding mileage. If the charity chooses to repay a flat rate for mileage reclaims, it may be necessary to obtain a dispensation to avoid completing P11Ds.

6.17  Ordering of Goods or Services

Clearly defined levels of expenditure should be set if an employee is authorised to order goods and/or services from contractors. Care should be taken to ensure that trustees are aware of any potential for bribery in any form, gift or cash, by which the employee may be tempted. This can be both to and from the employee to a supplier/contractor.

6.18  Gifts from Residents

It is advisable for charities to have a policy that states all gifts must be declared and recorded, although it would be reasonable and good manners for staff to be able to accept small, token gifts from residents. This may also help to monitor if abuse is happening.

6.19  Staff Meetings

If there are particular staff groups it is often useful to have regular staff meetings where matters either general or particular can be discussed. There should be notes at least, if not formal minutes, of the meetings. This is a requirement of Care Quality Commission (CQC) if the organisation has a care home.


6.16 Expenses    

Where an employee is expected to fund certain activities from their own resources there should be a clear process for reclaiming of expenses. Expenses can cover more than simply a mileage allowance. For example some scheme managers may be expected to provide an annual tea. The reclaim form should be accompanied by receipts. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) provide rates for refunding mileage. If the charity chooses to repay a flat rate for mileage reclaims, it may be necessary to obtain a dispensation to avoid completing P11Ds.


6.17 Ordering of Goods or Services    

Clearly defined levels of expenditure should be set if an employee is authorised to order goods and/or services from contractors. Care should be taken to ensure that trustees are aware of any potential for bribery in any form, gift or cash, by which the employee may be tempted. This can be both to and from the employee to a supplier/contractor.


6.19 Staff Meetings

If there are particular staff groups it is often useful to have regular staff meetings where matters either general or particular can be discussed. There should be notes at least, if not formal minutes, of the meetings. This is a requirement of Care Quality Commission (CQC) if the organisation has a care home.


6.18 Gifts from Residents 

 It is advisable for charities to have a policy that states all gifts must be declared and recorded, although it would be reasonable and good manners for staff to be able to accept small, token gifts from residents. This may also help to monitor if abuse is happening.


6.20  Retirement

6.20.1  Retirement

There is no longer an automatic retirement at age 65.  Employees can continue to work past this age if they wish to do so, and as an employer the charity should continue to manage performance and capability in the role as it would any other employee.  If an employee engages in conversation about wishing to retire, then the charity should be prepared to discuss.

6.20.2  Exit Interviews

When people leave, they can often be more honest about their feelings then when they feel they are protecting their job. An exit interview is an opportunity to ask how the charity can improve as an employer and expect some honest and challenging answers!

6.21  Definitions

Employee - a person who works under a Contract of Employment, a Contract of Service or Apprenticeship.                                     

Worker - a person who works under some other form of contract, a contract for services.

Volunteer - a person who performs a service voluntarily and without payment.    

Contractor (self-employed/company) - a person or company who contracts to perform a particular role or service according to their own processes and methods.

 

For Further Information:

Care Quality Commission – www.cqc.org.uk

Criminal Records Bureau – www.homeoffice.gov.uk

Croner Solutions – www.cronersolutions.co.uk

Cruse Bereavement Care – www.cruse.org.uk

Employment Buddy – www.employmentbuddy.com

Mangar International  -  www.mangar.co.uk

National Back Pain Association – www.backcare.org.uk

Royal College of Nursing – www.rcn.org.uk

Xpert HR – www.xperthr.co.uk


© 2013. This document is copyright of the Almshouse Association and no part of it may be produced or published without the Association’s written consent.