As with paid staff, problems can arise if a volunteer feels unfairly treated at key points in the volunteering relationship, such as at the recruitment stage or when ending their involvement with the organisation. While there is no formal ‘dismissal’ process an organisation is legally required to follow for ‘managing out’ a volunteer. Exercising particular care at this time can help prevent volunteers feeling that they have experienced discrimination.
If you’re considering managing a volunteer out of a role because they can no longer perform the requirements of the role, think about whether you could make reasonable adjustments to enable them to continue as a volunteer. For example, could they take more frequent breaks, perform less physical duties or be transferred to a role that is more suitable?
If there are no other alternatives to discontinuing their relationship with your organisation, it is good practice to have a process around this rather than just letting them go. In any discussion, focus on their ability to fulfil the requirements of the role rather than attributes under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) which they may or may not have, for example, age or disability.
Having a process that makes the volunteer feel valued and recognises the important role that volunteering with your organisation may play in their life will mean that they are less likely to feel unfairly treated. Perhaps you could farewell the volunteer with a celebration as you would a staff member who was retiring and present them with a gift or certificate acknowledging their contribution.
If you need more information, please contact the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
Enquiry Line: 1300 292 153
Telephone: 1300 891 848
Fax: 1300 891 858
TTY: 1300 289 621