Rewarding volunteers and recognising the value of their work is key to making volunteers feel wanted and useful and therefore increasing retention levels and their loyalty to your Trust. There are often strong financial restrictions on VSMs which limit what they can do but not all schemes require a large financial outlay.
VSMs must be careful to avoid rewarding volunteers financially or ‘in kind’ for their work as this can result in the creating of an informal contract between the NHS Trust and the volunteer. This has wide ranging legal implications which could result in the volunteer claiming to have been ‘employed’ at which point they would be covered by employment law and would be entitled to the minimum wage for any work that they had done. however, any misunderstanding can be avoided by following some basic principles:
Make sure that volunteers are receiving reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses only, collect receipts and avoid payment of a flat fee.
Reduce perks that could be seen as consideration (payment in kind)
For example, training must be relevant to the role and can’t be offered as a reward after a specific length of service or hours volunteered (although you can stipulate that volunteers must show some sort of commitment to their role before they would be considered for specific training opportunities). Any minor perks should be described as purely at the discretion of the organisation, rather than an enforceable right the volunteer gains as part of the relationship
For more information about volunteer legislation, expenses, gifts and donations contact your local NAVSM hub