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Community Development Resource Kit

SECTION A: Community Development Practice

SECTION B1: Setting Up A Community Group - Introduction

SECTION B2: Setting Up A Community Group - Legal Structures

SECTION B3: Setting Up a Community Group - Incorporated Societies

SECTION B4: Setting Up a Community Group - Charitable Trusts

SECTION C: Planning and Managing

SECTION D1: Employment Matters - Agreements

SECTION D3: Employment Matters - Support

SECTION D2: Employment Matters - Recruitment

SECTION E: Running Meetings

SECTION F: Project Management

SECTION G: Financial Management

SECTION H: Funding

SECTION I: Keeping Good Records

SECTION J: Technology - The Internet

SECTION K: Political Processes and Submissions

SECTION L: Legislation

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SECTION D3: Employment Matters - Support




Support for Your Workers

Induction: How to Avoid Throwing Your New Worker in at the Deep End




Training, Codes of Conduct, Performance Evaluation

Accountability and Supervision

An organisation's accountability processes and requirements are defined by its structure (legal and organisational) and its policies. Unless these are clearly understood, accountability for the paid worker will be confused.

It is important to establish a supervisor relationship for the worker. The supervisor may be a member of the management group or a small subcommittee of three or four people. This person or group acts as the employer and is delegated to carry out any employer responsibilities. The supervision relationship is the channel through which the worker is managed and held accountable for the work they do. The worker in turn can use this forum to ensure that the organisation meets its obligations to be a good employer.

Professional Supervision and Support

Paid workers may find themselves in a situation where the tasks they are required to carry out are very stressful or involve crisis management, or where there are ethical considerations. In these cases an outside supervisor may be appropriate.

The role of the outside supervisor is to provide confidential support and guidance for the worker on work issues. The outside supervisor does not become a further mechanism for accountability to the organisation and is not a replacement for internal supervision.

Some people who have the skills necessary to fulfil the role of the supervisor will charge for their services, so your organisation should budget for supervision as a legitimate work-related cost.


Training

As an employer, the organisation has a responsibility to provide training for paid workers. This includes on-the-job training, such as working alongside another worker who can show the new worker the administrative systems, and how the organisation likes particular tasks carried out.

In addition the worker may require some specialist professional training relevant to the position. This may include anything from computer skills to counselling and facilitation skills to bookkeeping and accounting skills.

Before any training programme is established it is necessary to assess the worker's individual needs. Priorities for training should be developed at the time of performance assessment.


Code of Conduct: Checklist

There are acceptable standards of behaviour and conduct in every organisation. In some organisations these standards are written down in a "code of conduct" and all employees are given a copy so that both they and the employer are aware of what is expected of them. Codes of conduct are additional to job descriptions and performance agreements.

Generally a code covers three areas:

1. employees should fulfil their normal obligations to their employer

2. employees should perform the duties associated with their job honestly and efficiently respecting the rights of clients and colleagues, and

3. employees should not bring the organisation they work for into disrepute through the conduct of private activities.

Obligations to the Employer

Employees have an obligation to:

  • be present at work as required
  • maintain expected standards of performance
  • obey all lawful and reasonable instructions
  • maintain proper standards of integrity and conduct, and
  • ensure that personal interests and convictions do not interfere with their duties to their employer.

News Media Enquiries

Response to news media enquiries should only be made by those authorised to do so.

Individual Comment

Employees should not comment in a critical manner to outsiders on an organisation's policy, programmes, or practices.

Performing Honestly and Efficiently

Efficient and Competent Performance

Employees are required to:

  • obey the law
  • maintain any requirements for the position, e.g. a drivers licence, a current first aid certificate
  • obey all lawful and reasonable instructions of management
  • be competent and efficient in performing their duties
  • refrain from conduct (such as the use of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs) which might affect work performance
  • show reasonable care, and not use or allow the use of the organisation's property or resources for anything other than authorised purposes
  • not make any promise on behalf of the employer without authority, and
  • be at their workplace, unless otherwise authorised.

Respect for the Rights of Clients and Colleagues

Employees are required to:

  • perform their duties without allowing workplace relationships to affect them adversely
  • respect other peoples privacy when dealing with personal information
  • respect the cultural background of clients and colleagues
  • not endanger or cause unreasonable distress to other employees or disrupt the workplace other than through lawful industrial action, and
  • not discriminate against the organisation's clients or colleagues because of their: sex or sexual orientation; colour, race, ethnic or national origins; religious or ethical beliefs; marital status or family responsibilities; age, disability or bodily infection (e.g. HIV status).

Impartiality and Avoidance of Conflicts of Interest

Employees are expected to avoid any financial or other interest or undertaking that could get in the way of performing their official duties, or affect the integrity or standing of the employer.

Employees may only take on paid employment outside their primary employment if it does not:

  • conflict with the organisation's rights to the employee’s time and services, or
  • interfere with the employee's ability to do the job (i.e. by being bad for the employees health or not allowing adequate rest).

Employees are required to:
  • inform their employer of any real or possible conflicts of interest, including any offence that they have committed against the law (other than minor traffic offences);
  • avoid favouring any person or organisation in which the individual has an interest; and
  • not abuse their position in an organisation for private purposes or ask for or accept unauthorised gifts which might be seen to compromise the employee or the organisation.

Resolving Conflicts of Interest

Sometimes a real or possible conflict of interest may arise for an employee regarding an issue of conscience. There are three ways of dealing with this:

  • the employer transfers the tasks or duties involved to another employee,
  • the employee restricts or ceases the activity giving rise to the conflict, or
  • the employee resigns.

Gifts, Rewards, Benefits

This is a difficult area, however the general rules are:

  • it is unacceptable to accept a gift (whatever its nature or value) if it could be seen by anyone to be a bribe or reward that might place the employee under an obligation to anyone other than their employer; and
  • if the employee is offered anything, they should politely decline and immediately inform their employer of the offer.

Conduct of Private Activities

Behaviour
If an employee's conduct is offensive and publicly identifies the behaviour of the individual with the organisation they work for, then questions about the suitability for that employment of the individual may be raised.

In the areas raised previously, the following issues need to be considered:

  • nature and circumstances of the offence
  • position, duties, and responsibilities of the job
  • consequences for the ability of the employee to do the job
  • effects of the behaviour on the organisation's relationships with its clients, funding agencies, etc., and
  • principles of natural justice, e.g. access by the employee to grievance procedures (refer to "Natural Justice").


Performance Measurement and Evaluation

Once a worker is employed it is important that their performance is monitored regularly. An important aspect of performance monitoring is establishing a performance agreement. This is a statement or agreement between the employer and employee about what is expected of the employee.

Performance Agreements and Job Descriptions

The performance agreement should be practical and a useful day-to-day planning tool for the paid worker. Having it cover a three- or six-month period will encourage you to keep it updated.


The performance agreement should begin with the service statements in the job description.

From each service statement actual work objectives should be developed.

Under each service statement, specific tasks or projects to be completed in that period are noted.

Negotiating the Agreement

Performance agreements should be put together by a process of negotiation between the employer and the employee. Employees should be advised well in advance when they are going to meet with their manager or team leader to negotiate the agreement. Negotiation means working together to find mutually acceptable performance standards for the work being undertaken. Some employees and employers write separate draft agreements showing how they would like the performance measured. They then sit down together to compare the drafts and negotiate a final agreement.

Performance agreements should be negotiated:

  • at the start of the job
  • when a new person starts an existing job
  • when the supervisor changes
  • when there are significant changes to the job, and
  • when the term of the previous agreement has expired.

At least an hour of uninterrupted time should be set aside to negotiate the agreement.

The employer should adopt the following procedure in the negotiating session:
  • put the staff member at their ease
  • outline the purpose of the session
  • outline all performance issues at the start (both parties)
  • explore any differences of opinion about performance between the employer and employee for each issue raised
  • resolve all issues, using consensus if possible
  • finalise and write up the performance agreement
  • agree on feedback and new dates, and
  • close the session.

The agreement should be printed out, and both parties should sign it and have a copy.


Sample: Performance Agreement

Ka Hao Youth Trust - Performance Agreement
Name:
Performance Agreement for period 2/2/2004 to 31/7/2004
SERVICESMANAGER'S/SUPERVISOR'S COMMENTS
The provision of crisis support (including referral services) to young people and their families:
- maintain through to 31.7.2004 contact with at least eight young people
- maintain contact with families of young people, minimum of three visits to each family through to 31.7.2004
- initiate a minimum of three networking meetings with Department of Social Welfare by 31.7.2004
- make contact with two new providers of emergency accommodation by 31.5.2004
The provision of life skills programmes to young people and their families:
- run three six-weekly life skills programmes (one night a week) in the assessment period
- achieve an average 80% in course evaluations
Administration tasks
- completion of fortnightly time sheets
- maintenance of a diary of activities and clients
- maintenance of confidential client files
- attend monthly management meetings
Services and tasks agreed to:
Employee:
Date:
Manager/Supervisor:
Date:
General Comments:
Employee's signature:
Date:
I agree disagree with this assessment
Manager/Supervisor's signature:
Date:


Performance Evaluation

A performance evaluation should be completed at the end of the agreed time period. The format of a performance evaluation will be very similar to a feedback session.

Ideally, when it comes to make a staff member's performance evaluation there should be absolutely no surprises and no areas that are not under effective action.

Any information that will affect the performance evaluation should be recorded.

All good performance should be acknowledged.

Where needs are identified, the employer and employee should work together on ways of obtaining information to fill the need (drafting a training programme).

The performance evaluation should be recorded and signed by both parties.

Once a year the performance agreement should also be used to decide whether an increment or bonus (if the organisation has budgeted for this) should be paid.

Feedback Sessions

Feedback sessions are useful checks when held every one or two months. The performance agreement should be referred to at these sessions. Good performance should always be acknowledged. Progress against the agreement should be looked at and any specific performance difficulties raised. Effort to resolve any performance issues (e.g. by organising training) should be made as soon as possible,.

Performance: Management Committees and Paid Workers

The organisation should remember that the committee and employees are a team - a group of individuals all working toward one common goal. To achieve this the organisation must be clear on exactly who is responsible for what:

The governing committee or board is responsible for setting the policies of the group, employing the manager and assessing their performance - as a general rule, it should not be involved in the day to day affairs of the organisation.

The manager or co-ordinator is responsible for carrying out the policies, managing the day to day activities and administration of the organisation as s/he thinks fit, providing information, feedback and advice to the committee or board, and supporting and guiding the staff. The manager should not usually set policies, but should be putting the board's policies in place.
The committee or board and the staff need to agree on what each shall do, they need to respect each other's authority and they need to trust the other's ability to exercise authority.

Volunteers

Roles, Motivation, Job Descriptions, Recruitment, Training

Voluntary work is done of one’s own free will, unpaid, for the common good. Volunteering has long been the lifeblood of societies and cultures.

Role of Volunteers

Most community groups are originally conceived by, and set up, by volunteers. If they become known and their services expand, most of them employ paid staff to carry out the main management function. Eventually most end up with committees or boards of volunteers, paid staff managing the organisation, and a mix of volunteers and paid staff delivering the organisation's services. In this environment, it is most important that the status of volunteers is maintained and they are seen as equal contributors to the organisation. This can be done by clearly defining the working relationships between volunteers and paid workers, matching the worker to the job, acknowledging the contributions made by volunteers to the organisation, and providing appropriate support and training.

Reasons for Volunteering

Volunteers have a wide range of reasons for wanting to become involved in a community group. These can include:

  • wanting to develop a broader range of skills and experience
  • wanting to meet people and widen social contacts
  • having a political or social belief in the aims of the group
  • wanting to put something back into the community, and
  • to gain work experience.

Contributions Volunteers Can Make

Volunteers:

  • can provide opportunities to enhance and humanise services
  • are often seen by clients as giving true community service
  • can be a valuable link between client and organisation
  • can provide flexibility in the hours of service that is not as freely available with paid staff
  • can provide the opportunity for the organisation to support its community, by helping people who are not employed to gain work experience and new skills.

Planning for Volunteer Participation

Volunteer participation within a programme should meet the needs of everyone involved - volunteer, paid staff and clients of the organisation. To do this:

  • volunteer work should be planned as an integral part of the work of the organisation
  • volunteer policy – a checklist follows for what should be included in this.
  • volunteer jobs should complement or enhance, but not replace, the work of paid staff (a checklist for what to consider when thinking about whether an organisation should ask a volunteer to take on a role is included on page 129), and
  • volunteers should not be restricted to particular jobs solely by reason of their status as volunteers.

Checklist for Volunteer Involvement

A Volunteer policy should contain statements on:

  • Philosophy of the organisation
  • Principles of volunteering
  • Rationale for volunteer involvement
  • Distinction between paid and unpaid work
  • Reimbursement:- out-of-pocket travel
  • Training provided
  • Agreement
  • Legal Issues
  • Health and safety
  • Grievance disciplinary policy
  • Rights and responsibilities
  • Insurance cover
  • Support and supervision
  • Code of practice
  • Code of ethics
  • Pre-employment check
  • Previous employment
  • Reference audit
  • Police check
  • Confidentiality and Privacy

Should we ask a Volunteer to Take on this Job?

Deciding whether a job is voluntary or paid is always a difficult decision for organisations.

The issues are quite complex, especially when the service is new, undergoing change or losing funding. Below are a few questions you might ask yourself when determining whether the role should be filled by paid or volunteer staff.

Is the volunteer sought solely in order to save money on a salary?
Has the role ever been carried out by paid workers within the organisation?
Is the role carried out by paid workers in other organisations?
Is the role covered by an industrial award?
Has the organisation considered its legal obligation of duty of care?
Is the organisation able to cover volunteer staff by adequate insurance?
Is the suggested role or task(s) unpopular with paid staff?
Can the role be performed in less than sixteen hours per week?
Do we have the resources and time to recruit, select, train and support volunteer staff?
Would the placement of a volunteer in this role add value to the organisation?
Would a volunteer offer a different relationship to the organisation’s customers from that of a person who is paid?
Does the suggested volunteer role have intrinsic value and can it offer something to a volunteer?

Establishing Motivation

The following questions will help to place a volunteer in a job that fits with their reason/s for volunteering and with their interests and strengths:
Do you have any particular reason for wanting to work with this organisation?
What sort of work are you most interested in doing?
What satisfaction do you think you should get from this job?
Do you prefer to work on your own, or would you rather work with other people?
Where do you see yourself progressing from here?
To what extent do you like to have responsibility or make decisions?

Meaningful Work

For volunteers to remain motivated and interested, their work needs to be both meaningful and valued.

If someone seems happy just doing the boring stuff, it may be because they do not feel confident and need a hand. Even if they are genuinely happy doing it, they should be given extra thanks for doing “thankless” work.

Ideally, volunteers should have the option of doing a variety of work, some of which provides a new challenge. Organising a more experienced volunteer or paid worker to work alongside a new person on a project will provide both a sense of belonging and an opportunity to learn new skills.

Reimbursement for Expenses

The costs incurred by volunteers are an expense that the community group should budget for. The group should aim to reimburse (at least partially) volunteers for transport costs, childcare costs, stationery, training costs and toll calls made for the organisation.

Some volunteers may wish to decline offers of reimbursement. However, while volunteers do not expect to make money out of volunteering, they should not be left out of pocket by it.

The organisation should be very clear about whether it is paying for volunteers’ expenses, and if so, how much. If the organisation pays for expenses it should be explicit at the beginning about the limits. If it genuinely can't afford to reimburse volunteers, it should be clear about that before the volunteer starts working.

Note: many funding organisations such as the Lottery Grants Board, COGS and the CYPFS Contracting Group recognise volunteers expenses as a legitimate item in funding applications.

Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers and Community Groups

Both the volunteer and the community group have rights and responsibilities which must be observed.

Volunteer
RightsResponsibilities
To be aware of why the job is needed.To inform themselves.
To be informed of agency policies.To operate within agency policies.
To have opportunities for input into policy development and decision making.To contribute positively to organisational decision-making.
To have their role defined.To make a serious commitment to the tasks they agreed to.
To have a job description.To keep to the tasks in the job description unless otherwise agreed.
To be given meaningful work.To represent the group or organisation appropriately.
To have opportunities to work alongside other members of the group.To act as a member of the team.
To have positive and successful training and supervision.To participate in training and supervision.
To receive feedback about their work.To listen to feedback.
To limit their involvement.To work in a way that is appropriate for the organisation.
To be reimbursed for expenses.To ask for help when it is needed.
To receive supervision and support.To actively participate in supervision.
To have their work valued.To work positively alongside paid workers.
To have opportunities for personal development.To maintain confidentiality.
To participate in programme planning, monitoring and evaluation.
Community Group
RightsResponsibilities
To expect a volunteer to ask if they need information.To provide relevant information.
To monitor the quality of work carried out by volunteers.To provide job descriptions.
To say no to volunteers' offers of work if they are inappropriate.To provide training.
To expect the job to be done if someone has said they’ll do it.To respect the limits of a volunteer's involvement.
To expect the volunteers to participate in training.To provide reimbursement for expenses whenever possible.
To seek specific skills from volunteers if they are needed.To provide supervision and support.
To provide clear boundaries for involvement.To provide meaningful work.
To recruit only those volunteers needed.To work to ensure positive working relationships between paid workers and volunteers.
To discipline/dismiss volunteers who do not work in the best interest of the organisation.Have in place conflict resolution and grievance procedures.

Note: The organisation and the voluntary workers may wish to adapt the code of conduct in the section on Paid Workers so it applies to voluntary workers as well.

Relationships between Volunteer and Paid Staff

Misunderstandings between paid staff and volunteers can usually be put down to unclear roles, so the organisation should:

  • involve staff as much as possible in planning for volunteer involvement, including job design, interviewing and training of volunteers
  • provide orientation and training of staff to work with volunteers before volunteers become involved in the programme
  • organise some joint in-service training for both volunteers and staff. This can create shared understanding about the two roles
  • identify staff who like working with volunteers.

Job Descriptions for Volunteers

It is important that volunteers are clear about their role and tasks in the organisation. A job description is a useful way of doing this. This could be in the form of a one-page statement outlining the agreed tasks. It should also include a statement about reimbursements payable to the volunteer.

You should consider involving both paid staff and volunteers in developing the job description. They may wish to adapt the paid worker job description outlined in Job Descriptions (p 65).

Note: Volunteers are excluded from the provisions of the Employment Relations Act 2000.

Sample Volunteer Job Description

KA HAO YOUTH TRUST
Name: Monica Runciman
Position: Voluntary Administrator
Responsible to: Office Manager
Hours: 10am - 4pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Tasks:

  • filing
  • typing
  • mail outs
  • reception duties
  • attend to allocated correspondence
  • attend committee meetings

Reimbursement: the ABC Youth Trust will pay up to $10.00 per week travel costs.
Signed:

Monica Runciman ................................................ Heather Makara .........................................................
VolunteerChairperson
Ka Hao Youth TrustKa Hao Youth Trust
10/4/0410/4/04

Recruitment

Thought needs to be given to recruitment of volunteers. The organisation should think about what skills they would like the volunteers to have, then seek those skills.

A policy statement or pamphlet outlining what the organisation needs and what can be offered is useful and should be as positive as possible.

There are a variety of ways to can recruit volunteers. These include:

  • going through the local Volunteer Centre, if any. Volunteer Centres are generally located in urban areas. They are not only a good way to find people who want to volunteer, but they can also provide useful advice on volunteer issues
  • advertising in the local community newspaper
  • advertising through newsletters, e.g. that of the local council for social services
  • putting notices on community noticeboards in the area
  • word of mouth, using the networks of those already involved in the organisation

Training for Volunteers

Induction and Orientation

Induction and orientation programmes are a useful way of introducing a number of new volunteers at the same time.

An orientation programme could include:

  • aims and objectives of the organisation
  • structure of the organisation
  • work content and philosophy of how work should be carried out
  • communication channels (phone trees, newsletters etc)
  • training
  • supervision
  • introduction to paid staff
  • meetings - how they work, when they are held
  • any payments, and how to get reimbursed for expenses
  • resources available
  • where and how to get help - any buddy-systems or the like.

On the Job Training

Informal training could include:

  • working alongside a paid worker or more experienced volunteer on a challenging project
  • taking on a job under guidance, where specific feedback will be given, e.g. facilitating meetings
  • networking opportunities with other similar groups
  • peer supervision

Formal training could include:
  • refresher courses on policies and practices
  • special courses aimed at gearing up the group to meet a new challenge such as a change in government policy
  • courses that are designed to train up workers on issues identified by the organisation or the volunteer, to increase the group's ability to meet the requirements of the clients (e.g. working cross-culturally).

Specialist Training

If volunteers have agreed to take on specialist roles within the group there may be courses available that would assist them. For example a voluntary treasurer may want to attend a community-run course on bookkeeping or taxation matters.

Someone directly involved with the employment issues of paid workers might benefit from attending a seminar about the Employment Relations Act.

A volunteer counsellor may want advanced training in a particular technique.

The main thing to remember is that volunteers have the right to understand the requirements of the tasks they are taking on and to develop the skills required to perform them.

Information Channels

Ensuring good information-flow between all the members of the organisation is critical to its smooth operation. This is particularly important for volunteers who, because of their limited time involvement, often miss out on what is happening.

If the group is large, say more than 15 people, internal newsletters are a good idea. These can include news internal to the group and also relevant community or national news.

For important news that needs to be passed on quickly, a telephone tree is a good idea.

Telephone Tree




So a large number of people can get a message quickly - in the above, 14 people get the message with nobody making more than two phone calls - but it needs to be organised in advance. People with the greatest competence and commitment to the organisation should be put near the top of the tree. Each member needs a copy of a diagram like that one - with all the phone numbers. To avoid the “Chinese whispers” effect, the message must be short and simple, and of a set format, beginning “This is a telephone tree message for the members of ........................ .“ If it is announcing an event it must include the date, time and place.

Text-messaging and email are largely supplanting the telephone tree, but it still has its place.

Meetings are another important way of ensuring information is passed on. If the organisation’s structure is not too formal, volunteers should be made welcome to the meetings and should be able to put items of importance to them on the agenda. (See Section E)

If the organisation is run on formal lines with only elected representatives attending meetings, separate volunteers' meetings may be in order. The chairperson, or a paid worker who knows a lot about what is going on, should attend these meetings to pass on relevant information.

Having said all that, it's not all one-way traffic. Volunteers should make efforts to inform themselves and to make the most of opportunities presented to them.

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Last updated: 13/05/2005