Strategic partners publish guide to avoiding job substitution

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Volunteering England has today published a guide to help organisations address the issue of job substitution, particularly when facing cuts in funding for services, in partnership with Locality, NAVCA and NCVO.

As the budgets of many organisations in the voluntary and public sectors are cut, the issue of job substitution – when volunteers replace paid staff – has become critical. This guide is to help organisations ensure they do not substitute paid staff posts with volunteers.

The guide notes a range of scenarios which could be considered job substitution. The extreme case could be where an organisation decides to cut jobs and recruit volunteers to fill the gaps. But in other cases members of a local community may volunteer to run activities after a service has been withdrawn.

In all such situations, advises the guide, "there is a need to review not only organisations' services and expenditure but their relationship with the volunteer group, the kind of roles they can expect of volunteers and the resources or training required to support them".

The guide sets out steps in managing the process and consulting about the principles, policy and roles and responsibilities of volunteers.

Chief Executive of Volunteering England Justin Davis Smith said:

"We are urging organisations to plan and consult with staff, trade unions and the communities they serve so as to make sure volunteers are involved in a positive way. There is a danger that volunteers are seen as a way of reducing costs, and that undermines staff jobs and is extremely damaging to the public perception of volunteering. Plans to involve volunteers should complement and supplement the work of paid staff. Indeed volunteers may bring new ideas or skills to organisations at a time when they are greatly needed."

The guide builds on the charter agreed between Volunteering England and the TUC in December 2009 for strengthening relations between paid staff and volunteers.

Notes to editors

Volunteering England is an independent charity and membership organisation, committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering in all its diversity. Our work links policy, research, innovation, good practice and programme management in the involvement of volunteers.

For more information contact Dan Sumners, Senior Policy and Communications Officer, via 020 7520 8986 or

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