The Coronavirus Act 2020 brought in several measures, one of which, Schedule 7, was Emergency Volunteering Leave (EVL), which is a temporary form of statutory unpaid leave for employees who wish to volunteer in the health and social care sectors during the current crisis.
While we still await the regulations to confirm the details and also confirmation of the date on which Schedule 7 comes into force, here is an outline of the scheme.
Qualification for Emergency Volunteering Leave
To qualify for EVL a workers must be issued with an “emergency volunteering certificate” (EVL Certificate) by an appropriate authority. This confirms that they have been approved as an emergency volunteer and that they will volunteer for a specified period.
There is no service requirement with an employer for a worker to take EVL.
There are some workers exempt from the entitlement to take EVL, namely:
- Microbusinesses with less than 10 staff (headcount not full time equivalent, FTE)
- Workers who are employed by the Crown
- Workers who are relevant members of the staff of the House of Commons, House of Lords, National Assembly of Wales, Scottish Parliament or the Northern Ireland Assembly
- Workers in the police service.
A worker must provide their employer with at least three working days’ written notice before the first day of the period specified in the EV Certificate. They should also confirm the start date and length of their volunteer period. A working day is defined as any day other than a Saturday or Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a bank holiday in any part of the UK.
A workers must provide their employer with a copy of the EV certificate.
A worker can take a set block of 2, 3 or 4 consecutive weeks of EVL during a period of 16 weeks (known as a “volunteering period”).
Terms and Conditions
For those with the status of employee, terms and conditions of employment (except those relating to remuneration ie wages or salary) continue to apply during EVL and there are protections on pension rights.
Workers taking EVL are also protected from detriment and receive aditional unfair dismissal protection.
Employees who return to work after a period of EVL are entitled to return to the job in which they were employed before the absence on terms no less favourable.
EVL is unpaid. However, we await the regulations to confirm what payments may be made by the State to volunteers in terms of compensation for loss of earnings and for travelling and subsistence. It is thought some employers may be prepared to continue to pay volunteers (similar to the Jury Service arrangement currently).
You may also find the additional guides useful regarding other measures introduced by the government:
For more articles and ongoing updates visit the HR Solutions’ dedicated page, ‘Coronavirus Advice and Guidance for Employers’. HR Solutions are here to provide you with support and advice on any employment related issues; to find out more call us on 0844 324 5840 or contact us online.