A message from NCVO.
We’ve been asked our opinion on the Emergency Volunteering Leave scheme by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). Below is an overview of the scheme. If you have any comments, please could you send these over by 4pm today to firstname.lastname@example.org
In particular, please could you send your thoughts on:
- The need for volunteers. DHSC are specifically interested in where there is potential need for skilled volunteers in health, community health and social care settings (both in statutory and voluntary sectors), as this is the remit of the EVS legislation. However are there also need for volunteers who come without prior training / skills.
- Any major issues with current availability of volunteers – Are there issues with the supply of skilled volunteers, what are they and how could EVS help. DHSC are interested in both specific needs of organisations like SJA, or wider sector wide barriers.
- Are there other things that DHSC could do to help other than triggering EVS (for example ministerial engagement to encourage employers to release employees voluntarily, flexibility on timings, providing references and vetting information, voluntary sector organisations being able to issue volunteering certificates, providing volunteers who are in furlough)
Emergency Volunteering Leave
What is Emergency volunteering Leave (EVL)?
‘Emergency Volunteering Leave’ is a measure introduced by the Coronavirus Act 2020 entitling workers to temporarily leave their job and volunteer for a set period in the NHS or social care sector during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Who is entitled to take EVL?
All workers (not just employees) are entitled to take EVL, provided they do not fall into one of the following categories:
- They are employed by a small business with fewer than 10 staff
- They are employed by the legislature, for example the Crown, or if they are member of the House of Commons or Lords
- They are a police officer
- They are in the military
How long is a worker entitled to take EVL for?
EVL can be taken in blocks of 2, 3 or 4 weeks. A worker is only entitled to take one block of either 2, 3 of 4 weeks EVL in any 16-week period. The block of 2, 3 or 4 weeks must also begin and end in the same 16-week period.
How can a worker apply to take EVL?
In order to apply to take EVL a worker must:
- Obtain an ‘emergency volunteering certificate’ from an appropriate authority which includes the Department of Health, the NHS, or County, District or London Borough Councils
- Notify their employer that they intend to be absent from work for the period specified in their ‘emergency volunteering certificate’ at least 3 working days before the period specified in the certificate begins
- Provide their employer with a copy of their ‘emergency volunteering certificate’
Is a volunteer paid or entitled to the benefit of their usual terms and conditions during EVL?
EVL is a form of unpaid leave so employers do not have to pay workers while they are taking EVL. During any period of EVL, a worker is entitled to the benefit of all of their usual terms and conditions of employment that they would have been entitled to had they not been taking EVL. However this does not include terms and conditions relating to remuneration. A worker also has the right to return to their job on the same terms and conditions of employment they had prior to taking EVL.
It is expected that a UK-wide compensation fund will be established by the Government to compensate volunteers for loss of earnings and any travel or subsistence expenses incurred during their volunteering. An announcement is likely to be made soon.
Is a furloughed worker entitled to take EVL?
The Government is still to clarify how compensation under the EVL scheme will interact with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Therefore, it is not known yet whether a worker will be able to claim compensation during EVL while also furloughed.