Protecting Staff and Volunteers: The Human Side of Insurance

By Unity Insurance Services 

| 30 May 2017

Volunteers and staff are the lifeblood of any children's charity or youth group. As a specialist insurance broker, Unity Insurance Services understands when it comes to insurance, they can be overlooked.

It is good practice to offer the same duty of care to volunteers as employees. Picture: Micromonkey Adobe Stock

Protecting your people

Injuries and accidents to your people - Stay legal

Some charities believe that their volunteers are covered under their Public Liability policy, (which often isn't the case), and this may be the only cover they need. By law, if your organisation employs anybody, it must have Employers' Liability insurance.

Employers' Liability Insurance covers the legal liability for any injury, disease or fatality to employees which may occur through their work as a result of your charity's negligence, and the cost of defending those claims. As well as injury, Employers' Liability Insurance can cover a claim for theft or damage of an employee's personal belongs while working. 

Volunteers and Employers' Liability

Here, the distinction between employee and volunteer is not simply a question of pay. You are also considered to employ someone if you:

a) Have a form of contract of service with them to perform work for you.
b) Control where they work and how they work.

Volunteers are likely to fall under the second category.

It is good practice to offer the same duty of care to volunteers as employees and you should consider the same cover for your volunteers. Most insurance companies do include volunteers in their Employers' Liability policies, but you must tell your insurer you have volunteers or they may not be covered.

Accidents do happen

Despite the best risk management, a member of staff or volunteer may be injured where your charity is neither negligent nor liable for the accident. This would not be covered under your Employers' Liability policy, but Personal Accident insurance can provide a financial benefit for your staff and volunteers in such a case. A Personal Accident policy is a "no blame" payment, where the policy pays out a defined benefit irrespective of whether there was any negligence.

Check your policy wording

  • What is the policy definition for "employee" and "volunteer"?
  • Does the insurance policy include volunteers, such as Employers' Liability extending to volunteers?
  • What types of activities undertaken by staff and volunteers are covered?
  • Are there any upper or lower age limits on the Personal Accident policy?

Protecting your children's charity or youth group

As well as insurance befitting the people working for your organisation, it can also protect the organisation itself against some of the risks related to employing staff and volunteers. 

A particular employee may be crucial to the functioning of your organisation and its day-to-day activities. Key person insurance can help provide financial stability following the sudden loss of an important employee.

Your charity could face claims by its staff or volunteers for employment disputes, such as wrongful termination, discrimination or sexual harassment. Employment Protection Liability cover can protect your organisation by paying out for damages awarded if the courts find against you as well as paying legal costs.

Often basic money and contents insurance will only provide cover if there is forced entry into or out of the property, but not if the thief has keys or access to your premises. While the vast majority of staff and volunteers will have your charity's best interest at heart, there is the possibility that some people won't. Fidelity insurance will cover loss of money or property as result of employee or volunteer dishonesty, such as stealing money, committing fraud including computer fraud, or embezzling money.

However, insurance is no substitute for sound financial and personnel risk management. Claims are usually only paid if the charity can show that its practices and arrangements were adequate and people were properly supervised.

Getting the right advice and cover

Unity Insurance Services recommends that you speak to a specialist insurance broker who can arrange the right cover, giving you peace of mind from having appropriate protection in place for your children's charity or youth group, staff and volunteers.

For more information visit the Unity Insurance Services website or call on 0345 040 7702.

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