Module 5

POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

The work of volunteers is very important for many organisations. In order to recognise the work of volunteers and the role they play within an organisation, it is very important to have policies and procedures in place that meet the needs of the organisation.

The following course describes policies and procedures that can help establish a foundation of success and safety for participants and workers who are part of peer support programs.

The main objectives of this unit are:

  • To understand the concept and importance of policies and procedures of an organisation.
  • To know the different policies and procedures that occur in an organisation.
  • To know which are the most common procedures for regulating volunteering

Approximate reading time for the module, without taking into account suggested resources and further reading, is about 3 hours.

 

The learners don’t need to already have particular knowledge or skills. The learners will need a computer with an internet connection and sheet of paper and a pen to take notes.

 

It is advisable that the learners consult the reference material and thus deepen the information provided.

Content

Every organisation is made up of people in different roles and refers to different groups, including management, paid staff, volunteers, and users, to name a few. Volunteer organisations are characterised by the importance of this particular group that identifies them or gives them identity.


Figure 1: Agents linked to the Organisations
Source: Observatorio del Tercer Sector, 2006

The altruistic nature of volunteerism and the fact that many organisations have often come into being thanks to the efforts of volunteers sometimes lead to underestimating the importance of managing this group. There are elements that need to be managed coherently for both the organisation and the volunteer so that the relationship is as beneficial as possible for both parties.
Volunteer management, then, aims to help people realise their potential in a way that aligns their motivation with the organisation’s goals.
Not all organisations have reached the level of maturity that allows them to recognise the importance of proposing general measures for volunteers in order to align the perspectives or expectations of this group with those of the organisation. It must be taken into account that their management requires a holistic view that allows an analysis of the entire life path of the person in the organisation.
Policies and procedures are a set of rules and methods developed and communicated to structure specific processes within an organisation. The term encompasses a set of instructions to staff, ranging from general guidelines to specific steps for particular tasks.
Defining and communicating policies and procedures is necessary in all organisations. Policies are general principles that are aligned with the organisation’s mission and are designed by managers to guide all employees in making decisions to accomplish their daily tasks.
Procedures are more specific and detailed rules, usually expressed as methods or steps for carrying out a particular activity.
Policies and procedures should be consistent with each other and share a common strategic goal. They support standardisation through best practices and make communication of instructions and training more effective and complete.

Policies are guidelines or criteria that are considered for the achievement of objectives in an organisation. A volunteer policy provides the organisation with a consistent method of addressing volunteer engagement across the organisation. It helps to ensure that everyone involved in the organisation understands and values volunteer engagement. Ideally, the volunteer policy should be developed together with staff and volunteers and reviewed regularly.

A good policy also shows that the organisation takes volunteer engagement seriously and manages it professionally, and that volunteer engagement is planned as part of the whole organisation's activities, rather than as an ad hoc activity that lies outside the main organisation.

Before writing a policy, find out why you want to involve volunteers in your organisation. Does your organisation rely on volunteers to deliver its services? Can volunteers improve the services provided by paid staff?

This list is for guidance only. You should adapt your volunteer policy to the needs of your organisation. Any statements you make in your volunteer policy should also be backed up by appropriate policies and procedures.

A responsible person should be appointed to oversee the implementation of the policy. Policies should be reviewed regularly, at least once a year, to see if they need to be revised in response to feedback or changes in the organisation.

Here are some examples:

  • Behavioural guidelines are a set of practical rules that aim to regulate people's behaviour towards each other in order to achieve harmonious coexistence. Adherence to these standards of conduct is a condition of employment. Employees who do not comply with these standards may be subject to disciplinary action such as dismissal.
  • The Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy recognises the right of all employees to have their personal dignity respected. The prevention of bullying is the responsibility of each individual. It is the responsibility of managers and Board members to address bullying and staff and Board members will express their disapproval when they encounter bullying. A model anti-bullying and harassment policy is provided in Annex 1.
  • Loyalty policies refer to employees' duties of loyalty to the association and the employer. Employee behaviour must inspire trust and not bring the association into disrepute, as must loyalty, honesty and fidelity.
  • Confidentiality Policy is a statement of the principles and guidelines for protecting the personal information of persons who are customers, suppliers or others. All information in an employee's file must be kept confidential by the Chief Executive Officer, supervisor and manager. This information may only be disclosed to those persons authorised to receive it. Confidential information received by employees in the course of their employment shall not be used by an employee to further private interests.

Procedure is a term that refers to the action of proceeding, which means to act in a certain way. The concept, on the other hand, is linked to a method or a way of executing something.

 

A procedure, in this sense, consists of following certain predefined steps in order to carry out a task efficiently. Its objective should be unique and easily identifiable, although there may be different procedures for the same purpose, each with different structures and steps, and each offering more or less efficiency.

 

If the policies set out the organisation's guidelines, "what is to be done", the second step will be the elaboration of certain procedures that provide guidance on "how it is to be done".The existence of a volunteering policy, and even the development of certain action procedures, facilitates the task of coordination for the volunteers, as they have an orientation or guide for their work.

 

Examples of procedures for conducting future activities (based on the policies of the previous section) are:

 

  • Procedures for rules of conduct. The Board of Directors must promote the dissemination, knowledge and compliance with the rules of conduct and establish the appropriate channels of communication so that any employee can request or provide information on compliance with the rules, while ensuring the confidentiality of complaints handled at all times. Information on the level of compliance with the standards of conduct should be established.

 

  • Anti-Bullying and harassment procedure. In the first instance, staff should be trained in the prevention of bullying. Staff should immediately report the situation to the management team and identify the situation. Initially, both the complainant and the alleged harasser or bully will be offered the opportunity to resolve the conflict through direct mediation. If no agreement is reached, the procedure will continue. The procedure is urgent and confidential. Once the procedure has been initiated, a meeting is held with the persons involved in the case. After information has been obtained and a personal written statement has been made, the parties will be informed of the conclusions and/or proposed remedial action. A model anti-bullying and harassment procedure is provided in Annex 2.

 

  • Loyalty procedure. Before building staff loyalty, it is important to identify who the organisation has. Their profiles, their contributions and their level of commitment. On the other hand, employee loyalty requires taking into account the time and resources invested in training and education. Therefore, to build loyalty, it is essential to value employees as the most important links in the partnership. Managers' responsibilities to workers include compensation and socio-economic benefits, opportunities for growth and career development, motivation and job security, and the appropriateness of interpersonal relationships. Loyalty building techniques include work climate assessment, motivation and personal satisfaction surveys, employee questionnaires and interviews.

 

  • Confidentiality procedures. Employees must learn about privacy and the handling of confidential information and sign an Acknowledgement of Privacy and Confidentiality of Information form before they begin employment with the association. Managers should ensure that new employees sign a Privacy and Confidentiality of Information Acknowledgement Form before they start at the Association. Human resources staff should place these forms in employee files.

This chapter contains information on policies and procedures that relate to associations or companies. In this case, the scenario would take place in peer support associations. Guidelines for action in the above cases are suggested here.

By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • Be aware of the need to have a proper policy and procedures in place.
  • Identify the types of policies and procedures in an association.

Self-assessment

  • What are policies and procedures? - definition: Meaning: Example. My Accounting Course. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.myaccountingcourse.com/accounting-dictionary/policies-and-procedures
  • Policies and procedures handbook. A Guide for Not-for-profit Organisations. Produced by Volunteering WA, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.volunteeringwa.org.au/resources/policies-and-procedures

Insert Company Name (logo) here:

 

Bullying and Harassment Policy

 

Policy

 

(Insert company name) is committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment for all staff and clients. Bullying and harassment will not be tolerated in this organization. All workers will be treated in a fair and respectful manner.

 

Bullying and Harassment:

 

  1. Includes any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated, but

 

  1. Excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment.

 

Examples of conduct or comments that might constitute bullying and harassment include verbal aggression or insults, calling someone derogatory names, harmful hazing or initiation practices, vandalizing personal belongings, and spreading malicious rumors.

 

Employers are responsible for:

 

  •  Modeling respectful conduct in the workplace;
  • Taking all complaints about disrespectful behaviour seriously and addressing them promptly;
  • Intervening when they witness disrespectful behaviour to stop the behaviour;
  • Providing guidance and assistance to employees who report disrespectful behaviour to them;
  • Investigating reports of harassment and bullying when necessary and taking proper corrective action;
  • Explaining the significance of this Policy when involved in orienting new employees.

 

Employees are responsible for:

  • Conducting themselves in a respectful manner in the workplace and at work related gatherings;
  • Attempting to resolve differences with other employees in a respectful manner;
  • Approaching their supervisor or manager for assistance to do this;
  • Reporting to the employer if they experience harassment or witness another person being harassed;
  • Co-operating in the investigation of a harassment complaint.

 

Confidentiality

 

The (insert company name here) will keep the identity of the individuals involved in the complaint and any information about the complaint confidential, unless: it is necessary in investigating the complaint, if it is part of the disciplinary action, or where it is part of the law.

 

Bullying and Harassment Procedure

 

Procedure

 

All staff, upon becoming aware of a bullying, harassment or sexual harassment incident or allegation must act in accordance with the responsibilities as set out in the Bullying and Harassment Policy. 

 

As the scope of the Policy extends to the stakeholders being staff, employees, trainees, participants and jobseekers there will be some variation in the procedure, which is largely based on the degree of direct control Maxima may exercise in any given situation, e.g. interactions with Hosts and other external stakeholders. 

 

The principles common to the procedure are: 

 

  •  ensure that a safe work environment is provided (which may mean in practice that the complainant is removed from the situation until it is established that the environment poses no risk)  
  • consider the view of the complainant  
  • objectively assess the situation  
  • the confidence/ability of the staff member to deal with the problem  
  • provision of information about relevant and independent advocacy and support services where appropriate 

 

If in doubt, staff who receive a report of an instance of bullying, harassment or sexual harassment are encouraged to discuss the matter confidentially with the HR Manager/Officer, Contact Officer or the Bullying and Harassment Officer

 

Methods of Reporting

 

Include:

  • direct observation 
  • direct reporting from either an individual or group of individuals  
  • through a third party reporting an observed or reported action. 

 

All reports need to be taken seriously and treated confidentially. 

 

Where the matter has been reported by a third party, it is important to speak with the alleged victim and find out their views on the behaviour in question.

 

Methods of Resolution 

 

Any staff member who receives a report of bullying, harassment or sexual harassment needs to make a decision as to the appropriate resolution. When making this judgment it is expected the following will be taken into account: 

 

  • the view of the complainant  
  • the seriousness of the issue 
  • the confidence/ability of the staff member to deal with the problem. 

 

If in doubt, staff who receive a report of an issue are encouraged to discuss the matter confidentially with the HR Manager/Officer, Contact Officer or Bullying and Harassment Officer. 

 

Where the matter has been reported by a third party, it is important to speak with the alleged victim and find out their views on the behaviour in question.

 

Minor Allegations

For less serious issues, a resolution may include: 

 

  • informal advice  
  • the victim telling the perpetrator to stop their behaviour  
  • a mediation or conciliation meeting between the parties directly involved. 

 

It is then important, even if this stops the behaviour, that a short report be submitted to the HR Manager/Officer so that further instances involving other alleged perpetrators/victims are not considered in isolation. The record of a resolution will be kept confidentially.

 

Serious Allegations

If the matter is deemed to be of a more serious nature, the alleged victim should be encouraged to make a formal complaint to the HR Manager/Officer who will instigate a formal investigation. 

 

  • A formal investigation should include:  
  • a meeting with the alleged victim detailing the allegation  
  • meetings with any witnesses  
  • review of any documentary evidence (i.e. emails, social media, medical evidence and other relevant items)  
  • meeting with alleged perpetrator to discuss their position  
  • all interviews to take place in confidence and be fully documented. 

 

After all the evidence has been collected, remedial action should be identified with senior management i.e. HR Manager/Officer, Bullying and Harassment Officer. 

 

Remedial Action 

May include:  

  • formal mediation/reconciliation with enforceable outcomes (see mediation/reconciliation below)  
  • verbal or written warnings, records of which will be documented (see disciplinary action/termination policy)  
  • dismissal (see disciplinary action/termination policy). 

 

Remedial action may differ dependent on stakeholders involved.

 

Mediation/Reconciliation

 

A meeting date should be secured to suit all parties. The HR Manager/Officer will send out invitations to the parties to be involved. 

 

The meeting should take place in a neutral environment and include:  

  • 2 out of the following 3 people: HR Manager/Officer, Contact Officer or Bullying and Harassment Officer  
  • the person on the receiving end of the behaviour (victim) and a support person, if needed  
  • the perpetrator and a support person, if needed 

 

Actions from this meeting are to be documented and recorded.

 

Consequent Actions

 

After all the evidence has been collected, a course of action should be determined by senior management or delegate. For all stakeholders in cases where the bullying, harassment or sexual harassment may constitute a potential breach of the law, they will be referred to appropriate authorities.

 

For staff, consequent actions could include:  

  • verbal or written warnings consistent with the disciplinary action/termination policy  
  • mediation/reconciliation  
  • termination. 

 

For trainees and employees:  

 

  • relevant disciplinary action procedure  
  • relevant termination procedure 

 

However, if the perpetrator was an employee of the host (or other person associated with the host), the host would need to enact their procedures to resolve the situation. If the host was unable to satisfactorily resolve the situation Maxima may need to terminate the placement. 

 

Jobseeker or participant:

 

Where a jobseeker or participant, is the perpetrator actions may include:  

 

  • withdrawal from work experience/placement  
  • termination of services. 

 

Where a jobseeker or participant is the complainant of alleged bullying, harassment or sexual harassment by another person not associated with Maxima while they are engaged off-site in a Maxima program, Maxima will attempt to liaise with the relevant individual or organisation to resolve the matter. Where this is not possible Maxima will make alternative arrangements to complete the Maxima program in which they are engaged.