Protecting your volunteers and staff
04 June 2019

Protecting your volunteers and staff

The success of many charities stands on the shoulders of deeply committed staff and volunteers who put substantial time and efforts into helping others. And like in any business, the people who work there – whether they are paid or not – deserve an equal duty of care from their employer.

Injuries and accidents to your people - Stay legal 

In fact, it is a legal requirement for all organisations to insure their staff against injury, illness or fatality that could occur as a result of the company’s negligence. This is Employers' Liability insurance, and companies can face hefty fines if they don’t have the right cover in place.

If you run a charity, you should count your volunteers as employees and provide them with the same protection. To make sure you’re covered, let your insurer know you have volunteers – even if it is only temporary, such as during the annual Volunteer Week - and clarify what activities they’ll be doing. Volunteers at an animal rescue centre face very different risks to those working in a charity shop, for example, and there may be different types of cover available depending on the work.

Claims against employers are quite commonplace nowadays, but should not be taken lightly. Even the most minor injuries can result in thousands of pounds of legal fees, which could be a huge setback for a charity. The right Employers' Liability insurance will cover the legal costs for any physical or psychological injury, illness or fatality suffered by an employee as a result of workplace conditions. 

Accidents do happen 

Of course, not every injury or illness at work is the employer’s fault. Sometimes accidents really do just happen, despite all the appropriate safety measures being in place. Such incidents are not covered by Employers' Liability insurance, but your charity can take out a Personal Accident policy – a “no blame” payment that does not seek out liability or negligence. This is not only beneficial to the staff and volunteers, but can also pay your charity back for the costs of being temporarily short-staffed.

Check your policy wording

When faced with such a daunting range of insurance options, there’s a risk of being caught short. Policy wordings can be overlooked during the long and tedious process of buying cover, but it’s extremely important to know exactly what you’re getting. Here are a few examples of things to check, but it’s worth chatting to someone to make sure all your questions are answered:

  • Does the policy distinguish between employees and volunteers and does it cover both?
  • What types of activities are covered and which activities are out of bounds?
  • Does the Personal Accident policy set an upper or lower age limit that could affect who volunteers for you?

Ultimately no amount of insurance makes up for meticulous risk management, including the proper training and supervision of all staff and volunteers. But getting the right cover will give you more reassurance that your charity, and the people who work so hard for it, are protected.