Through consultation with volunteer involving organisations and projects in the not for profit sector ADL Film Fest has developed some standards for volunteer involvement which represent and explain the tenets of ‘best practice’ in the management of volunteers.
Definition of Volunteering
Volunteering is work which:
- Is of benefit to the individual and the community and to the agency or organisation to which the work or service is provided (in this case ADL Film Fest);
- Is done of one’s own free will; and
- Is done without monetary reward.
In engaging volunteers who provide work and/or services to ADL Film Fest, ADL Film Fest shall:
- Interview and employ volunteer staff in accordance with anti discrimination and equal opportunity legislation;
- not place volunteer staff in roles that were previously held by paid staff or have been identified as paid jobs;
- differentiate between paid and unpaid roles;
- define volunteer roles and develop clear job descriptions;
- ensure volunteers are not required to take up additional work during industrial dispute or paid staff shortage;
- acknowledge the rights of volunteer staff;
- ensure that the work of volunteer staff complements but does not undermine the work of paid staff;
- ensure that volunteer tasks are useful, meaningful and not exploitative of volunteer;
- treat volunteer staff as valuable team members, and advise them of the opportunities to participate in agency decisions;
- acknowledge the contributions of volunteer staff.
- explain to volunteers ADL Film Fest’s objectives, roles and functions; and consider and balance the interests of paid and volunteer staff
Volunteer entitlements and responsibilities
ADL Film Fest shall:
- provide volunteer staff with a clear understanding of organisational expectations, as well as entitlements, before they begin work or change roles.
- provide volunteer staff with a clear description of tasks to be performed, orientation and training and resources as required to effectively fulfil tasks and appropriate supervision.
- provide volunteer staff with a healthy and safe workplace and provide to the volunteer, copies of any of ADL Film Fest OHS&W policies and procedures.
- provide Civil Liability and Personal Accident Cover for volunteer staff in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Employment Public Sector Management Act Determination No 27;
- provide appropriate levels of support and management for volunteer staff;
- provide volunteers with a copy of policies pertaining to volunteer staff;
- provide mutual feedback relating to performance and for exit interviews if required;
- provide volunteer staff with information on ADL Film Fest’s grievance and disciplinary policies and procedures;
- offer volunteer staff the opportunity for professional development;
- reimburse volunteer staff for out of pocket expenses incurred on behalf of the organisation;
- ensure personal records relating to individual volunteers will remain confidential;
- ensure that all volunteers are aware of their rights and responsibilities under the equal opportunity legislation;
- consult with volunteers in relation to any decisions, which may affect them.
Payments to Volunteers
Volunteering is generally unpaid, and entered into without expectation of financial reward. However, occasionally payments are made to volunteers in the form of reimbursements, allowances and honoraria.
Honoraria are financial payments intended as honorary rewards for voluntary services.
Whether an honorarium is treated as assessable income depends on which of the following two categories best describe the circumstances of the payment.
- an honorary reward for voluntary services, or
- a fee for professional services voluntarily rendered.
Honoraria are not generally considered assessable income unless they are received for professional services voluntarily rendered.
For example, an electrician who receives a $200 honorarium for electrical services voluntary rendered is required to declare this payment as assessable income.
The ATO defines allowances as definite, predetermined payments intended to cover an anticipated expense. Allowances are paid regardless of how much the volunteer actually spends in the course of their volunteering activity.
Volunteering Australia does not endorse the use of allowances for volunteers because, where they are not tied to expenses actually incurred and vouched for, they are likely to be treated as assessable income by the tax office. By receiving payments that are not tied to specific expenses, volunteers are burdened with responsibilities to the ATO that they may not be aware of.
The simplest way for volunteers to recoup out of pocket expenses is for the organisation they volunteer with to reimburse them directly. A reimbursement is a payment that covers the precise amount of expenses incurred by a volunteer.
Reimbursements are not treated as assessable income and are therefore not subject to income tax. Organisations should require volunteers to vouch expenses with receipts.
A payment is a reimbursement for tax purposes where the recipient is compensated exactly (meaning precisely, as opposed to approximately), whether wholly or partly, for an expense already incurred
Responsibility for the Program
The Director is ultimately responsible for the coordination of volunteer placement. The manager of the area of focus, i.e. marketing, production or education, will take day-to-day responsibility for the implementation and coordination of volunteer involvement.