Working with employees and volunteers
Employees are individuals who are employed by congregations to undertake specific duties for payment. Volunteers may undertake the same duties of employees; however, they will not be under contract or be paid for their work.
The health and safety role, in many cases, is a secondary or part-time responsibility of the volunteers. This can lead to a disproportionate allocation of time dedicated by the volunteers to carry out both the health and safety and their other volunteer roles effectively. We strongly recommend that any volunteers tasked with health and safety have a volunteer agreement which allows them to suitably manage the part-time responsibilities of each of the agreed roles to ensure that sufficient time can be allocated to carry out the tasks and responsibilities of each position filled.
The minister is not regarded as an employee of the congregation. However, cleaners, organists, administrators, development workers etc. may be classed as employees.
Health and safety legislation now applies to employees and volunteers and they are suitably afforded equal rights and should be included in any policies and procedures. If at least one person is employed or carrying out voluntary duties, congregations are expected to comply with all relevant legislation.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated guidance to help organisations that work with volunteers to comply with health and safety legislation. We recommend that congregations implement a single-system approach to health and safety, which means no differentiation between employees and volunteers. This will ensure that everyone who works, volunteers or visits church properties is protected under the same health and safety policies and procedures. Progress through this toolkit will enable these to be developed. Please refer to the HSE guidance on Volunteers.