Corporate Volunteering - Risk Management
20 April 2006 at 1:04 pm
The potential liabilities of an employer and a Not for Profit organisation overlap and there can be considerable confusion about just who is liable if anything goes wrong, according to a new brochure by Volunteering Australia and Exxon Mobil.
The publication called Insurance and Risk Management for Corporate Volunteers aims to minimise the risks involved for all parties by clarifying responsibilities and liabilities.
The brochure says that both the employer and the Not for Profit organisation should accept that in undertaking corporate volunteering programs, they each have responsibilities.
Both parties should ensure that:
1. volunteers are working within safe environments;
2. ambiguity about where responsibility lies is reduced as far
as is practical prior to the volunteers’ actual involvement;
3. there is adequate training and supervision for volunteers, and that appropriate policies are in place and made available to the volunteers; and
4. there is adequate insurance coverage for volunteers.
In addition, employers should consider the protection of their employees in undertaking volunteering work and either structure the program so that the volunteering activity clearly falls ‘within the course of employment’ (this term is explained in the following section) or consider giving the Not for Profit organisation an indemnity to reduce any additional burden connected to taking on corporate volunteers.
The guide says partnerships succeed when there is:
clarity as to where potential liability lies (this will involve determining if the activity is ‘within the course of employment’),
agreement as to which party accepts liability and in what circumstances, and
risk minimisation by spelling out the employer’s requirements for the safety, privacy, equal opportunity, training and supervision of their employees while engaged in volunteering activities.
Risk management is part of Volunteering Australia’s National Standards for Involving Volunteers.
VA says Applying systematic risk management processes and practices is part of best practice in volunteer management. Identifying the risks involved when engaging volunteers, or sending company employees out to a place of work which is outside their usual working arrangements, can help reduce the risk of liability.
This latest brochure sets out ways to reduce risk and liabilities for both the Not for Profit and the corporate employer.
Not for Profit organisations: Protecting your volunteers
Review your public liability, volunteer protection and any other relevant insurance policies to ensure they cover the risks and activities to be undertaken by the corporate volunteers, and disclose any agreements as to respective liability to your insurance broker to check they do not breach any part of your insurance policy.
If you believe that the corporate volunteers will be acting ‘within the course of employment’, confirm this with their employer and confirm that their employer’s insurance will cover its employees for injury when undertaking the volunteering activities.
Employers’ liability for their employees
Workers’ compensation legislation provides that employers are liable for injuries to employees where the employee is acting ‘within the course of employment’. Not-for-profit organisations and the corporate volunteers often presume corporate volunteers are covered by workers’ compensation but this may not always be the case.
Defining ‘within the course of employment’
The employer needs to be clear about whether the employees undertaking volunteering activities via its volunteering program are acting ‘within the course of employment’.
Volunteering Australia is hosting the Engage Series of workshops targeted at companies (April 27th 2006 ) and Not for Profits (April 28th 2006) to help assess the strengths and weaknesses of their volunteering programs.
If you would like more information on these workshops send us an email with the words Volunteering Australia workshops in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like an electronic copy of the volunteer insurance guide in PDF format just send an email with the words Insurance and Risk Management for Corporate Volunteers in the subject line to email@example.com.