Volunteer Problem Solving Policy

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There may be times when the performance or conduct of a volunteer falls below what is expected. Having a clear and established procedure and process in place will help and if shared with all your volunteers prevents misunderstandings and seeks to protect the volunteer and the organisation.

What should a policy contain?

The aim of the policy should be to encourage improvement in individual conduct and performance and reduce the need for ending the volunteer relationship. Because of the legal status of employees you cannot just reuse your employee disciplinary policy, your policy for dealing with volunteering challenges must be specific to volunteers.

About this Example Policy

This example of a Volunteer Problem Solving Policy mirrors many of the standard procedures that you might see in a staff disciplinary policy, however, the policy has been drafted to ensure that where possible the language is less punitive and care is taken to ensure that solutions are sought.

Informal Discussions

Most problems can be resolved by informal discussions or counselling. Before taking formal disciplinary action every effort should be made to resolve the matter by informal discussion. This may include mediation or additional training or support for the volunteer, This would not be recorded as disciplinary action and would be seen as a process of constructive dialogue.

The Informal Procedure

Where minor problems of performance or conduct are alleged, your named contact person (or other assigned staff member) should hold an informal discussion with you to discuss this and decide on an appropriate course of action. The kinds of things we would identify as minor problems could be:

  • Poor timekeeping - such as being regularly late
  • Poor conduct – such as inappropriate behaviour
  • Poor performance – such as regular incompletion of tasks or repeated mistakes

Your named contact person will work with you to identify future expectations, set clear goals and tell you about future action that will be taken if expectations are not met. Where the issue is related to your ability to undertake the role, your named contact person will address this during support and supervision sessions. Appropriate expectations and goals will be set with you. Where there is no improvement, your supervisor will hold an informal three-way meeting with you and the Project Manager. The following courses of action will then be available:

  • Reasonable changes to your role to enable you to carry it out;
  • Change of your placement, where appropriate and available;
  • Developing a time-bound plan to address problems.

Your named contact person will evaluate whether problems are addressed and carry out a review at the end of the time-bound period; and follow the formal procedures listed in section four below.

The Formal Procedure

Where more serious problems of performance or conduct are alleged, or there is no improvement in relation to any earlier issues dealt with informally, the following procedure will be followed:


Your named contact person or another suitably appointed person will investigate the matter and prepare a report for a Service Manager or Director Of Operations.

Review meeting

The Service Manager or Director of Operations will hold a review meeting with you and your supervisor. You will be advised in advance of the allegations against you and given time to answer the allegations. You may, if you wish, be accompanied to the meeting by a supporter, this supporter could be a friend, family member, support worker or colleague.


If, following the review meeting, the Service Manager or Director of Operations finds the allegations to be upheld then they will decide an appropriate course of action depending on the seriousness of the performance problems or misconduct. The following courses of action will be available, although they do not preclude other/alternative action: • To issue a formal warning (to be confirmed in writing) advising you of future expectations, a specified review period if appropriate and an indication that the placement will be terminated if expectations are not met; and • To terminate the placement with immediate effect and to confirm this in writing to you.

Very serious problems

If a very serious problem is alleged, the organisation may suspend you from the premises immediately while the case is being investigated. Where the Service Manager or Director of Operations considers the allegation to be upheld, your volunteer placement will be ended with immediate effect. Examples of the actions, which we would consider to be very serious problems, are set out below. This list is neither comprehensive nor exclusive:

  • theft, fraud, deliberate falsification of company documents
  • violent behaviour, fighting, assault on another person
  • deliberate damage to company property
  • breaching of confidentiality
  • harassment
  • being unfit for work through alcohol or illegal drugs
  • being found in possession of alcohol or illegal drugs whilst on the premises
  • gross negligence
  • gross insubordination.


You may appeal against formal action taken under this Procedure. If you wish to do so, you should put the grounds of appeal in writing to the Chief Executive Officer within one week of receiving notification in writing of the penalty. If you need support drafting your appeal within this timescale, please let us know and we can advise you where you can access support.

  • The Chief Executive Officer will identify a senior manager (other than the one who took the original decision) to consider the appeal and issue his/her decision in writing.
  • The senior manager's decision will be final.

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More help?

If you would like more help or advice please contact Volunteer Edinburgh on 0131 225 0630 or email: hello@volunteeredinburgh.org.uk
Or you can drop in and see us:
Volunteer Edinburgh
222 Leith Walk, EH6 5EQ